Radically Moderate

Be passionate—even radical—in your dedication to balance and reason.

Dogma is the fool’s discipline. I came up with this motto several years ago, to express my frustrations with the rigid parameters many people believe a human life should be lived within. I like this saying a lot, and would be happy if you used it often, and spread it around.

Revolutionary thought often comes with a bang, but not always.

Human beings should strive toward balance and reason in civilization, and not be driven solely by dogmatic political, social or religious beliefs. This is not to say that you shouldn’t defend causes dear to your heart, but never without question. “Why should this be?” has to be asked often, and without hesitation. Independently minded individuals can champion ideas that others, shackled down by unyielding doctrines, just can’t.

Moderates are sometimes defined as people without strong convictions or beliefs. They offer common sense and reason instead of emotion and fire. I would argue that for those who choose the middle path (not in the Buddhist sense), passion should be the fire that stokes the cause of reason and temperance, and gives birth to the radically moderate.

I understand that the concept of the radically moderate goes against the notion of what a moderate should be. Yet if moderate ideas and solutions can be conveyed with brevity and conviction (they can), those ideas have the power to change the world. Revolutionary thought often comes with a bang, but not always. Sometimes the most life-altering ideas are nurtured gently, until they can fully bloom.

Many conservatives argue that corporations and industry should be regulated and taxed at the lowest rate possible, to promote growth and competiveness. Liberals advocate a more proportional tax rate, and strict regulations. Common sense might suggest enough taxes to ensure businesses help support a society from which they benefit (airports, bridges, roads, educated workers, emergency services, public universities, et cetera) and enough regulations to prevent unethical practices like child labor, unreasonable working conditions and pollution from taking root, while at the same time keeping the fiscal and regulatory burdens low enough to encourage growth. By ignoring the middle ground on this debate, people are often given a false choice between ‘all or nothing,’ when that simply isn’t the case.

If you are a true moderate, you should never be afraid to speak your mind.  

Having said that, I also need to mention that being moderate doesn’t always mean sticking to the center. It means not blindly adhering to only one belief. For example, I believe adults have the right to live how they choose, with whom they choose, and use their own bodies however they see fit, provided they aren’t willfully harming others. Furthermore, I think society should provide safeguards for people when they stumble and fall, no matter the reasons (abuse, accidents, addiction, disease), despite the costs. Our worth as a civilization is measured by how we treat the most vulnerable among us, not the most prosperous. Those are some fairly liberal views, right? But wait, there’s more … .

I also believe in a strong national defense. I’ve lived and traveled all over the world, and have had plenty of run-ins with anarchists, ardent chauvinists and nationalists from a variety of backgrounds, as well as jihadists and others with extreme and violent views. I’ve come to understand how important a powerful military is, despite the potential for misuse. Someday, if realities change, I might alter my opinion, but until then, this is another one of my beliefs.

Conservative friends often don’t comprehend my liberal social views, while some of my liberal friends fail to grasp my more hawkish approach to certain aspects of foreign policy. By not towing a fixed line for either side, I’ve opened myself up to a lot of flack, but I’m all right with that. Following the crowd has never really been my cup of tea.

If you are a true moderate, you should never be afraid to speak your mind. When tempers flare and logic is thrown out the window, and others gang up on you, demanding to know how you could voice an opinion contrary to their own, tell them the truth. “I’m radically moderate, passionate about balance and reason, and tired of false choices. Believe me, there are more of us out there than you could ever imagine.”


Read more on Ethics & Values and “Root Down” on The Good Life.

Image of businessman in equilibrium courtesy of Shutterstock

About Carl Pettit

Carl Pettit is a writer, illustrator and musician whose education and travels have taken him all over the world. When not out exploring, or pondering the universe, he finds time to produce fiction for both adults and children. You can catch up with him on his blog, or twitter.


  1. This is so true. The 15th century was married with religious dogmas, the 20th century was marred with political dogmas, the 21st century is married with identity politics. What people don’t understand is that the dogmas are the issue, not the issues themselves.

  2. Ignore the haters….you’re right on the money. What you’re describing is pragmatism–the most American of all philosophies–and the opposite of dogmatism.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    “Ain’t nothin’ in the middle of the road but a yella stripe and a buncha dead armadillos.” — LBJ

  4. AnonymousDog says:

    I think you have mischaracterized BOTH liberalism and conservatism in advocating your ‘radical moderation’.

  5. Doesn’t the gist of this article disprove the opening sentence? That is, the dogma to which you adhere is radical moderation. The extremes also use thought processes even if you disagree with them.


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