What Does It Mean To Be Reasonable In Unreasonable Circumstances?

Is this reasonable?

Is this reasonable?

I find that most of the time in life you can avoid serious issues when you basically stay in the middle. On most issues, the center is really the most “reasonable” place to be, because, by definition, it is in between both positions. You usually look at both sides of a situation, and end up somewhere in the middle, if you are being reasonable. But sometimes being reasonable is anything but.

You see, being reasonable implies that you are thinking, that you are examining something and making a decision based on reasoning. And at some point this means you will find things you do not like, but if you are just “reasonable,” you can find a compromise that you can live with. Nobody walks away truly happy, but, hey, it’s ok because we were being “reasonable”. It’s because we live in a world where “compromise” is exalted as though it’s the only moral position.

Here’s the issue though: what if we begin from a place that is factually incorrect?

The reasonable position is that everyone wants peace, whether they are in the Middle East or in Canada right? Nobody other than a few extremists wants more violence. That seems reasonable, and often it’s the point that most of us begin from. But what would you say if I told you that your assumption was wrong? Not incorrect, but actually wrong. So if you start from that place, you will not end up with a reasonable result. When one side wants the other side dead, when they want nothing less than “100% of the land from the river to the sea” (their words) what exactly would be the middle? Is the middle, saying “ Jews can live here, they just have no rights”? Or is the middle “we wont kill you all, just some”? Seriously, perhaps some of my Jewish friends who have the moral superiority complex can explain it to me (actually none of my actual friends have that). Because all I see is people saying they want to kill Jews, celebrating the death of children, and openly being antisemitic. So where, exactly, is the middle or the reasonable position here? I know it’s hard to believe, but Jews are not responsible for every bad thing in the world, even though it seems like some Jewish people actually believe that.

“We just want peace and justice” was the refrain from the Palestinians for years, during which we saw two intifadas, several hundred terrorist events, and numerous murders. At what point is it no longer “reasonable” to expect the Arab Palestinians to act like human beings? This is a serious question.  If someone says “Ryan, you should let me come over to your house for dinner, I promise nobody will harm you,” and then I go have dinner and get jumped by several people and beaten up, then later find out my guest had a hand in it, how many more times should I invite him to my house? Or better yet, if someone says to me “I want to kill you and your family, but you should invite me to dinner,” is it “reasonable” to invite them? I wonder, is it more reasonable to expect that someone who says they want to harm me, will harm me, or to expect something else?

It’s not racial profiling or racism to suggest that Palestinians in the vast majority either are ok with killing Jews, or actively support it. It’s called actions speak louder than words. While there are more and more Muslims stepping up to speak out, it’s still not where it needs to be. Instead of making statements abrogating responsibility, they should be stepping up and saying “No, we will not accept evil being done in our name.” Sadly this isn’t the case. In point of fact, they are completely refusing to budge at all from their position, which means that any budging by Israel is in fact unreasonable. If you are playing tug of war, and the other guy already holds more rope, do you give up more rope in the hope he will stop pulling?

I just went to a vigil for 3 murdered teenagers, I watched as people cried, sang and prayed, and the whole time I was burning inside, not because innocent lives were taken, but because even now I am seeing people talking about “being reasonable.” I don’t understand why there is such a double standard. I don’t see many people calling out the Palestinians for not doing more to prevent these crimes, I know they are infantilised by the West but come on. I don’t think it’s in any way reasonable to ignore the deaths of innocent kids.

I once wrote, “in a world filled with irrationality, the irrational becomes rational.” I am seeing that constantly, I see Jewish people like Jstreet and JVP advocating the position “that if Israel just compromises a little bit more” there will be peace in the Middle East. Just give a little more, just give up some land, because land for peace has worked out well for everyone I suppose. The moral maximilism is as dangerous as outright Anti-Semitism, as if only Israel and Jews should be held to a high standard. It’s actually racist both ways. It’s literally unreasonable standards for one side and no standards for the other.

I see people saying “yes three innocent kids were murdered in cold blood, but since several terrorists were killed during the investigation, we should call it even.” The people saying this are being reasonable, after all, three murdered kids is the same as six people killed resisting arrest during a criminal investigation right? That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Forget that three were innocent kids and six were terrorists with known ties to groups trying to kill Jews, who were killed while attacking police forces. If I let this be confusing, it will be, so I’m gonna try boiling it all down.

I remember as a kid, I received a Winchester .22 rifle for my sixth birthday. It was the greatest present I had ever received, and I was incredibly proud of it. I cleaned it every day and kept it in immaculate shape. One day, one of my stepbrothers wanted to go shoot some prairie chickens and asked to borrow my rifle. I said “no it’s mine and you have your own.” The issue was he had left his outside overnight and the scope had condensation and he couldn’t see, so he whined until my stepmother said “Ryan, be reasonable and let him borrow your rifle.” I was only six so I gave in. When he came home the next day, my beautiful, well-kept rifle was scuffed, dirty and wet. He handed it to me and I noticed it was even beaten up on the metal! The lazy bugger didn’t even clean it before giving it back. I showed Merv (my father) and he said, “Why would you lend him your rifle? You know he doesn’t even take care of his own. That was kinda stupid.” I told him “Because Jean said I should be reasonable and share.” Merv just shook his head and said “You don’t share your things with people who do not respect their own things, and it’s never reasonable to expect people to be anything other than what they are.” About a week later, my stepbrother asked to borrow my rifle again, and I said emphatically, “No.” When my stepmother stepped in and said “You will lend your rifle to your stepbrother,” Merv stepped in and said “Nope, it’s Ryan’s rifle, and Victor can’t be bothered to look after his own rifle, so he won’t be borrowing Ryan’s.” I learned at a young age that sometimes you simply have to say NO even if it sounds unreasonable. If I had lent Victor my rifle again, would it have been his fault when he returned it scuffed and dirty and possibly broken, or would it have been mine? A reasonable compromise would have been to lend it to him with the caveat that he clean it and return it in good shape, but he had already demonstrated that was unlikely to happen. So would that really be reasonable?

Ask yourselves a question though. At what point does being reasonable and trying to compromise become appeasement? At what point do you finally stand up and say ENOUGH? I think finding those boys dead, in a shallow grave and watching people celebrate the news was my tipping point. I don’t think I am going to be reasonable anymore. I think from now on I am going to expect people to act like human beings.

About Ryan Bellerose

A member of the indigenous Metis people, Ryan grew up in the far north of Alberta, Canada with no power nor running water. Ryan was unsure if his real name was "Go get water!" or "Go get wood!" In his free time, Ryan plays Canadian Rules Football , reads books, does advocacy work for indigenous people and does not live in an Igloo.

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What Does It Mean To Be Reasonable In Unreasonable Circumstances? |
05 July 2014 at 2:07am
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Facebook Comments

  • Norman_In_New_York

    Paradoxically, Ryan here is being eminently reasonable, with flawless logic.

  • Inessa

    Amazing clarity. It’s a shame the powers who could actually force the Palestenians’ hand (ie the hands who feed them) are not willing to abandon their “reasonable” positions.

    • Mark

      Funny, I feel exactly the same about Israel and the US.

      • dabney_c

        Of course you do.

  • Hard Little Machine

    It is unreasonable to ever talk to the Arabs about anything, ever, under any circumstances. They want you dead. End of story.

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  • Mark

    There seem to be a lot of people on this site who think they know how “all” Arabs/Palestinians think. All I know is that day in, day out, the IDF terrorise and humuliate the Palestinian population and murder their children; settlers vandalise and steal their land; and every time some well-meaning international politician tries to get both sides together to talk about peace, the Israelis sabotage the talks by announcing more illegal settlement building. Where is the reason in that?

    • Rosenberg

      Generalizations about the members of a large group are unlikely to be true about “all” the members of the group. But talking about Jews or Arabs is not saying that the comment applies to every member of the group. When people talk about groups (such as Jews or Arabs or Americans or Canadians or Europeans) they are implying that the comment applies to most members of the group, not every single individual in the group.

      If you put yourself in the place of an IDF soldier who, along with all the previous generations of IDF soldiers, has been on the defensive and trying to protect himself and his people from attack for 65 years, you might find it difficult to maintain a really friendly, respectful, courteous attitude during 65 years of being continuously under attack. IDF soldiers are (by and large) very good people, but they are only human. I am confident that when they are treated in a friendly, respectful, courteous, and non-threatening way, they would act the same way. If people were to throw rocks at you in an attempt to murder you, how long would you keep your smile?

      Despite all provocation IDF soldiers never deliberately kill children (or anyone). If children die in a confrontation with the IDF, it is only an inadvertent consequence of the IDF trying to protect themselves or other people (including Arabs) from attack.

      When you refer to “settlers” did you mean Arab settlers or Jewish villagers?

      The land is disputed. A very strong argument can be made that it is Jewish land. Despite that, Israel has been willing (even anxious) to negotiate about the land in order to obtain peace. If the Arabs were interested in having a Palestinian state, they would have been willing to have serious negotiations and would already have a Palestinian state. Unfortunately they (at least their leaders, I’m not sure about the Arab people) are much more interested in destroying the only Jewish state in the world than they are in creating a 23rd Arab state. I guess I can understand why. They already have 22, creating one more isn’t a high priority.

      None of the negotiations have been successful because the Arabs aren’t serious. They won’t even recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. While pretending to negotiate a peaceful settlement, the Arabs continue to demonize Jews, teach their children to hate Jews, celebrate murderers, fire rockets and mortars at innocent Israeli citizens, violate treaties and pledges they have signed and to rejoice at the murder of Israeli schoolboys. I don’t think that anyone can argue that this is compatible with a peace negotiation.

    • dabney_c

      Well now, Mark, how else are we Jews supposed to take over the world and subjugate the nations if not with terror, murder, vandalism, humiliation, theft, and sabotage? Duh!

    • Inessa

      Did you actually read the post? The IDF are not some psychopathic vigilante mob intent on murdering children. They are kids straight out of school, who have the burden of their country’s security while teenagers just like them enjoy Spring Break elsewhere. They are fathers, brothers husbands, who leave their jobs and families for a full month every year, like it or not. Unlike the Arabs radicalised to jihad and “resistance”, they hope for a quiet service each time, but they also need to get their job done, without getting killed or letting a fellow soldier get killed.
      As far as the settlers, no one is stealing anything. As far as the Palestenian Arabs are concerned, all Israelis are living on stolen land, as they lay claim to any land where anyone from their collectives’ grandparents once lived. Thus Abbas is being touted the man of peace because he has declared that he has magnanimously given up on his stake on real estate in Tzfat. The very land where they do live, was occupied by Jordan, but there was no Resistance or protestation about being occupied. There is absolutely nothing to stop them from building a state and getting on with life, where they are, with a view to expand once a peace agreement is reached. But what are they doing in preparation to a fully fledged state – mainly attacking Jews and complaining about apartheid and occupation. As far as the security barrier, do they anticipate that will come down once they are in their state – where does that happen between countries that one can freely move over the border without any checkpoints? And how are they preparing to live in peace with their neighbour (doesn’t a peace agreement imply living in peace) if a school teacher can get fired for letting the students talk to Israelis, and a university professor gets fired for teaching students about the Holocaust. That’s just the moderates, in Gaza you get butchered and dragged through the streets tied to motorcycle if you are just accused (not confirmed) to be a “collaborator”. Since when is there a crime of being a collaborator with a country you have a peace treaty with, and how does that bode for the prospect of peace,

    • udi yogev

      If the Palestinians want peace with Israel so much, how is it that they let some modest building plans near Israel’s capital make them ban the peace talks? Looks like a convenient excuse to me.

      What made Palestinians enter Israel in the fifties and murder Israeli civilians? Ever heard of the Fedayeen? Jordan controlled the west bank then.

  • Maurice Solovitz

    Most of us just want an easy life and therefore most people WILL go for the easiest option even if it is not the correct on. The reason that the Israel haters are doing so well (and antisemites) is that they are obsessive and passionately believe in what they are doing (for whatever reason). Most of us cannot compete with them because it is the fanatic who ends up by leading the union or teaching the course or actively propagating their hate. Misery demands company – if you cannot reach others and convert them then the implication is that you are wrong and the fanatic would rather wipe out the whole world than entertain the possibility of being in error.

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