Yet we are expected to live a lie, in which there is such a thing as a 'normal' human being, with moderate beliefs, with fair views, with an acceptable way of life. Deviation from this surreal point of reference terms us as outsiders, radicals, extremists. On some level, we're all radicals.
A simple physical principle has ruled the way we resolve our conflicts: majorities win. They do not win for some absolute reason; they are not dominant because we have all agreed that they should be: majorities win because the strong survive and the weak do not. In combat, the stronger force wins, and may impose its views, its reasoning, upon any remaining opposition. Strength is not always defined in terms of numbers or might or even truth, but something will differentiate the relative strengths of disparate groups of humans.
We live under mob rule: the assumption is that the 'greater good' is defined by the greater part of the population. Minorities are troublesome at times, but their whining can be (at some cost) put to rest with a thorough conflict. Slaughter, buy-outs, even hand-outs can give the majority peace of mind when ruling over its neighbors.
Somehow, the idea has arisen that minorities should be content to have lost. Repressed minorities should just accept the fact that they will never gain control, and be quiet. Occupied territories should just sit still and enjoy the life they are offered by their new masters. Minority political groups should not interfere in the plans of the majority. We have given in to intimidation under the pretext of civilization. A civilized minority knows when it has lost (even before the battle) and gives up. It is, don't you think, the natural way of things?
We are offended by terrorists who, knowing they don't stand a chance in open conflict, use 'dirty' methods to further their goals: there are, after all, civilized rules of conflict which we must all obey. We watch, condescendingly, as crowds of rioters protest popular measures which they must simply not understand, or they'd agree with us. We stand aghast at the sight of self-immolation, as flames consume the body of some peasant or other.
In a stunning display of egotism, we create laws supported by barely half of the population. Our leaders are disliked almost as much as they are liked, but their choices do not reflect this balance. The majority flaunts its powers, redistricting voting areas to give themselves even more votes at the next election. While 51% of the population (in a popular vote) enjoy the benefits of almost 100% control, 49% eagerly await their next chance to take control. Back and forth, the pendulum of power swings, bringing us ever-polarized world views.
When the American colonies were fighting for their independence, they should have lost. By the rules of the game, their army of farmers simply didn't stand a chance against the British. They won by breaking the rules: they were savages. No longer did they accept to stand in straight rows, facing their enemies, waiting to be cannon-balled into oblivion. No longer did they march, politely allowing their front lines to be decimated. They defined new rules of combat, and gave themselves the position of strength they needed to win.
Today, we face a new change in the rules. Small groups of pissed-off militants simply refuse to be quiet. All over the world, ill-armed and ill-supported "troops" fight despite the overwhelming odds against them. With virtually no chance of winning in open battle, they resort to terrorism. Psychological or physical, terrorism implies "unfair" attacks against civilians. No longer will these groups allow themselves to be defeated by an army: the source of their problem is the civilian population directing the army, not the army itself. The position of strength they seek is the most direct, and the only left to them.
Yes, they are uncivilized brutes, savage animals. They don't play by our rules. But then, under our rules, they have no chance of winning. We are afraid to seek concensus: it is rare, time-consuming, and might require compromise. Compromise might not even be possible: our positions may be too thoroughly mutually-exclusive to allow any compromise at all. The majority shall therefore declare, and the minorities shall fight back.
Our society does not advance through minorities being quiet, polite, or self-censored. Some day, each of us will be the minority, if only for a time. When that day comes, will we accept to go quietly? Will we give up our struggle, and accept the superiority of the new rulers? Will we never resort to desperate measures?
We are all animals. Once our backs are to the wall, we find new determination -- and new methods. Our dissent brings consequences we should accept: to deviate from the law of the strong is to accept the punishment they will impose. Repression, however, is nothing to be proud of, and neither is cowardice.