By Mark Callaghan
The word 'radical' comes from Latin word 'radix' which the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines as 'pertaining to the root', fundamental or essential, affecting the foundation. It is the opposite of 'conservative'.
Poet Robert Frost wrote, "I never dared be radical when young for fear it would make me conservative when old." Hannah Arendt wrote in 1970, "The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative on the day after the revolution." Apparently we will all come full circle.
I have mixed feelings about the new and varied ways in which language grows and evolves. I am comfortable with the old. 'Radicalisation' is on the short list of terms which describe attitudes current in our brave new twenty first century world; an old noun which has gained seven new letters and a whole new meaning.
The word radical has received bad press in recent times. Too often it refers to young people (as a rule) who have been influenced by teachings and promises of reward that have persuaded them to take their own lives in a cause, and to take other lives at the same time. These seemingly senseless acts are rightly called acts of terrorism.
'Radicalisation', according to Wikipedia, is a process by which an individual, or group comes to adopt increasingly political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the and other contemporary ideas and expressions of a nation's culture.
It is sad that the response of many is to wish to repay in kind, which is very difficult when the actual offender is dead. The collective angst is then directed against people deemed to be in agreement with these acts. This is no intelligent response, but the knee-jerk reaction of eye-for-an-eye vigilantes.
Radical doesn't need to be a dirty word.
Jesus was a radical too. Possibly his most radical teaching concerned people who were considered enemies. His Sermon on the Mount was ground breaking in its day. In fact it remains radical even today.
Jesus set about shifting the focus each time He said, "You have heard it said ... but I say to you". The axe was laid to the root, and a new day was dawning.
He moved from the self-serving "love your neighbor, but hate your enemy", to "love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute you." Only radical love can 'turn the other cheek' and give to anyone who asks. He said that this would be the true hallmark of the children of God.
It is only as our lives are radically changed in Christ can we express the type of response Jesus asks for.
What sort of response best meets the recent wall of hate which has been directed at the West? The roots of Western civilization lie in the Jesus' teaching. Radical love can meet radical hate and will ultimately triumph.
Let us consider our opportunities to share love in very real ways with everyone we come across. As we break down barriers understanding will come, and with it, appreciation that a culture with radical, genuine, tough love at its heart will win our enemies over. This radical love will find a way.•