To change the course of this country from radical swings from left to right, moderates need an animating principle — social justice.

David Brooks says the big idea that counteracts the nation’s core problems is “love your neighbor.” He ends “An Agenda for Moderates” with a call to listen to neighbors. But that should be just the beginning. People should also join their voices with others; take action to improve everyone’s lives; step beyond moderation.

“Was not Jesus an extremist in love?” Martin Luther King Jr. asked in his letter from the Birmingham jail. “Will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”

Brooks offers a false equivalency, where moderates must avoid the left that offers ideas of social justice, as much as the Trumpian right that offers tribe and builds walls. Brooks says people must avoid the leftists’ story of class, racial and gender oppression and its mission to rise up and destroy the systems of oppression.

Brooks risks becoming what MLK described in disappointment as the white moderate who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action.”

Just listening is not enough. When only five percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women; when African Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites; when the left’s stories of class, racial and gender oppression are, in fact, reality, then communal action must be taken.

Social justice is the policy of “love your neighbor” in action.

Orion Breen, Durham