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.

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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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