Quote of the day, spoken by ex-Senator Bob Packwood and attributed to his father (but originating elsewhere, I'd imagine): "Beware of the zealots--they have no sense of humor."
Packwood had his (serious) personal problems, as those around in 1995 and beforehand will attest. That acknowledged, I mourn the loss of politicians on both sides of the aisle who could decry extremism and work toward solutions to our nation's problems. Even my man Barry Goldwater, Mr. "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" himself, was generally congenial toward those with differing opinions.
On this day when we commemorate the terribly tragic effects of extremism upon our own nation nine years ago--and deal with the ugly manifestations of home-grown variations in Florida and lower Manhattan in the present--we would do well to heed Packwood's words.
Belief is not the problem. Belief can be undertaken with sincerity and commitment, and still operate within a realm of fellow-feeling, compassion and understanding. But when we lose those latter qualities, we are entering into a world predestined for fracture, hurt and sadly preventable tragedy.