Extremism is evidence of doubt, not certainty

The term to “puff out one’s feathers” is an idiom used to describe the physiological state of a bird that seeks to overemphasize its size by appearing to be bigger. It is usually used to intimidate or impress, but the ultimate goal is to artificially appear bigger. In human terms, “to puff out one’s chest” is similarly an attempt to artificially inject oneself with confidence and esteem.

The sad reality is that only those who lack size and security need to “puff out”. Genuine confidence doesn’t need the reassurance of tactics; it is only those with low self-esteem who demand honour.

A sense of security and confidence in the correctness of one’s behaviour and lifestyle choices allows a person to live a humble, non-confrontational existence. It is only those who are uncertain and plagued with doubts who need to assert their views and opinions, and at times intimidate others into conformity. To the lay person they appear to be confident in their positions and certain of their beliefs, but in reality they are merely “puffing out” their chests, overcompensating for a lack of real substance.

Extremism is born out of enormous doubt, rather than tremendous certainty. The confident believer can carry his beliefs alone and doesn’t demand the commitment of unbelievers. The opposite is true for one unconfident in himself. The louder he shouts, the greater his doubt.

This is true not only in the broad political spectrum, but on the personal level too. Arrogance is usually poorly veiled low self-esteem. A snub is triggered by fear and insecurity, not confidence and self-assurance.

Confidence is quiet. Self-assurance is humble. Certainty is private.

About the Author
Rabbi Krebs was born to a traditional family in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1997 he and his entire family moved to Sydney where he studied a BCom -Finance and Information Systems- at the University of New South Wales. It was during this time that he decided to explore his Jewish roots and spent time at Yeshiva in the old city of Jerusalem. Upon completing his degree Rabbi Krebs made Aliya to Israel where he has served in the Israeli defence force. He initially studied in the famed Yeshivat Har Etzion under the tutelage of Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein. His subsequently began studying for his semicha under Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Rabbi Chaim Brovender at Yeshivat Hamivtar, Efrat. In 2007 Rabbi Krebs was appointed as the fulltime Rabbi of Kehillat Masada. He is a qualified Psychotherapist and Professional mediator.