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It’s time to stop labeling one another

Posted on May 31, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

Dear Editor, 

Society has gone far beyond healthy disagreement. Estrangement and calling down those who don’t share your point of view has only seemed to explode over the last few years. It has reduced to petulant name-calling, like arguing children whose final statement in an argument is, “well, you’re stupid…and ugly”. I think we, as a society, would do well to take a dose of humility when approaching those of “the other side”. I am a Christian conservative in rural SE Alberta. Immediately then, according to the May 21 article in the Commentator titled “Researcher’s focus on far-right extremism centres southern Alberta in latest studies” I should be labelled a “far-right extremist” who is a threat to society because “rural southern Alberta…religion and extremism…are points of convergence”. Really? Does not the “researcher” tip her own hand when saying that people in online communities “sometimes find great spaces! Other times they fall down the far-right pipeline.” Apparently there is no such thing as far-left extremism. It is no secret that given my perspective I disagree on significant issues with those who are on “the left”. But to disregard them as automatically incorrect about everything or as extremist is fundamentally and morally wrong. It has created a society of solidified lines and foolish labels achieving nothing of value. Standing on the opposite sides of the street shouting “extremist” at one another is accomplishing what exactly? Is it not, instead, showing what we are willing to think and do to fellow humans? Now, I am not suggesting that everyone be centrist. Conviction is important! But what is also needed by everyone is both grace and truth. To approach these issues only with “grace” (in essence, for everyone to be centrist) is actually pseudo-grace as it doesn’t seek to find the truth and thereby provides no tangible action to serious issues. To approach these issues only from a “truth” standpoint is actually pseudo-truth as none of us has the full extent of wisdom without ever graciously hearing out the intent behind an opposite perspective. Our government leaders certainly share significant blame for this sharp animosity between “left” and “right”. Just watch question period in the House of Commons and you will find neither grace nor truth. But the media is also very much to blame! Because nice or temperate doesn’t sell, media seeks to exacerbate the problem by fanning the flames of hostility. Does the Commentator forget who their readers are? Many are religious rural conservatives. What purpose does it serve, except to only widen the gap and keep the sides hostile with one another? The Commentator would do well to avoid labelling its readers or any other Canadians as extremists merely based on their faith or home address regardless of how many letters are behind the name of the “researcher” who spews the rhetoric. Whereas arrogance breeds animosity and foolish isolation, humility breeds conversation, appreciation and diverse unification. I think it is high time that we, as citizens, wake up to the game of manipulation aimed to keep sides entrenched in deaf hostility. Let’s stop playing their game and act like the adults our society needs. 

George Mills, Bow Island

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