Avoid the Extremes and Govern From the Middle

Roger and Cheryl Hendrix – Burj Khalifa

When I first became a teacher and administrator in the Mormon church’s education system, I was once accused of being unsure of my testimony – that is, firmly believing that the church was the one and only true church on the face of the earth.

At the time it offended me to be called out on such an important quality. So, I tried to prove to everyone around me that the accusation was false. Because it was false, but in another way maybe it wasn’t false.

Now some fifty years later I say, “so what”. Who is perfect in what they believe? Or should I say, it’s probably not the best thing to be perfect in anything you believe.Today, I feel like we are thinking the same way about our political philosophy, as my peers in the educational system thought I should possess in my perfect piety toward God.

As a consequence, we may have become victims of embracing political extremes. Today, lamentably millions of Americans believe our political beliefs must be perfect. If not, some how those of us who don’t have perfect political views are less than valiant.

Presently, is there a cure for such rigid political radicalism? Yes: it is the idea of moderation in all things? To most political radicals, however, the word moderation connotes weakness.

Nevertheless, nothing in excess. The golden mean. No less than the most revered philosopher in Greek history was recorded as teaching the power of moderation. Socrates.

Drawn into war as a foot soldier, Socrates was admired by those below and above him. By no means a young warrior, he was 48 years old when he participated in the great Peloponnesian War.

He was decorated and honored for his tireless effort as a hoplite ( a free Greek citizen soldier). The war was bloody, and cruel, yet Socrates was noted for carrying on with bravery and heroism.

However, at war’s end, Socrates returned to Athens, and rather than teaching about how to be successful in combat, he taught his greatest lessons on steering clear of war. “Avoid the extremes and govern from the middle,” he told his students, among whom was Plato, who eventually taught the greatest philosopher of all time, Aristotle.

Today in America, we have lost the middle and govern at the extremes. We must give up this idea of having perfect political piety, and work steadfastly to understand and incorporate different ideas as we govern for the safety, security, and future prosperity of every citizen under our system of democratic governance.