On Being Radical

"Be radical--be radical--be not too damned radical!"

            --Walt Whitman

This advice strikes me as similar to one of my favorite bits of advice from Ecclesiastes 7:16:
Do not be excessively righteous, and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?
Instead of "ruin yourself" most translations go with "Why should you destroy yourself?" Some others render it, "Why make yourself miserable?" or even "So do not be excessively righteous or excessively wise; otherwise you might be disappointed." 

All of these, I think, also name the pitfalls of excessive "radicalism": destroying or ruining yourself, making yourself miserable, or having such idealistic and utopian expectations that you are perennially disappointed and depressed. 

But that's not to say don't be radical. We must be radical! Be radical!

Just don't be so damned radical.

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