As "progressives" we tend to believe we're more attuned, knowledgeable, insightful and connected to the problems and issues facing the world.
We certainly scoff at the tea party crowd and those on the right that gravitate to the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Palin et al.
But we need to guard against a tendency of being self righteous and with condescension toward "others" as if "we know" and "they are clueless". Are we not being "extremists" in our way?
The world is certainly not filled with progressives. There certainly is more of "them" than there are of "us". And like it or not there's only one planet we ALL have to share.
It is not lost on this progressive that the concept of "progress" is one of western invention. Progress is not a universal value held by all people everywhere. We in the west tend to view it as a given and the natural order of things.
There have been native peoples that lived amongst themselves for generations upon generations who lived similar lives with similar routines doing what their fathers and their fathers did through generations before them. "Progress" would be an alien idea and have no meaning for these people. But were their lives somehow any less than ours?
There was a longitudinal study done some years ago measuring the "happiness" of people in the 1950's and following them into the 1980's. What it found was that though people in the 50's had less material wealth i.e. fewer "things" than they had in the 80's, significantly they weren't any happier in the 80's than they were in the 50's! Yet we seem to want to acquire more "things" as if that will make us happier. Notice the proliferation of storage warehouses that dot the landscape. People seemingly have run out of space in their homes so they need to find additional "space" for them to put their stuff in. How's that for "progress" and development?
We have discovered the power of the atom and nuclear energy. Yet where has that "progress" gotten us? The power to annihilate us all slowly with fallout and cancer from damaged nuclear power plants or the ability to kill us off instantly in some mindless nuclear weapon exchange.
So maybe those "primitive" peoples we've managed to mostly overrun with our "progress" had something to offer; the ability to live cooperatively in basic harmony and live happily and mostly peacefully among themselves and with each other.
Because the way we're going now we seem hell bent on destroying ourselves in one way or another.