Only One Paint Brush?

Sunday Morning Musings:  I have been told that choosing to “walk in the middle of the road” is dangerous because I can be hit by traffic travelling in both directions.  Such is probably true, but being in the middle of the road is not the same as straddling the fence.

Okay, let’s end the metaphors and get straight to the issue.  I read facebooks postings (usually) and I listen to the news and find that depending on the “speaker” I only get part of the story, or almost totally different stories.  I read that some business folk are very much in favour of the tax changes proposed by the federal Liberals.  Yet, I can also find that others feel the proposals will become very destructive.  White supremacists tell us that they are exercising the right of free speech, while others call it hate speech. Progressive Christians and fundamentalists collide over interpretations of the Bible.  Sometimes I think it would better just to throw up my hands in defeat (and disgust) and crawl in a hole somewhere out of a sense of futility.

In the meantime I have noticed is going to require me using another metaphor – if you feel the need to forgive me, please do so.  It seems to me that we are also artists in a way – I could say we are called to be “co-creators” but that might raise a few hackles too.  Regardless, as an artist we are called to use more than one colour from the vast array of those on our pallets.  Yet so often the farther we move to the edges, the fewer colours, the less paint brushes we seem to be allowed to use.  Either one has to be for or against an issue and must use only the paint brush of the “leaders”.

What can be even worse is that bullying can and often results.  Even if the bullying is subtle, it is still just that.  We say we live in a democratic country – yet the majority doesn’t rule (e.g. first past the post in elections). Churches don’t seem to fare very well in this matter either.  Choose an issue and you will find at least three groups – those strongly in favour of the direction, those strongly opposed to it and the rest of us often bullied to join one side or the other.  Here comes the traffic in both directions!

Before I am hanged, drawn and quartered, let me present what I call the third point of view.  Like in most instances, I believe that we must start with listening.  However, listening does not end the matter.  Victims cannot be left as victims nor should they become victimizers.  However, my experience is that there is a huge difference between listening and hearing.  Sadly, my experience is that some are so set in their belief that they are “right” they don’t need to hear let alone begrudgingly listen.  We are very quick to tell someone they are wrong, or that they shouldn’t express the idea that there is more to the story.  As a result, the third way of viewing is usually ignored completely.

I would love to give specific examples, but I might be called a coward, a turn-coat, a weirdo or many other things that I simple choose to stay in the middle of the road and wait.

Thomas Merton wrote in the prologue to Raids of the Unspeakable: “You are not big enough to accuse the whole age effectively, but let us say you are in dissent. You are in no position to issue commands, but you can speak words of hope. Shall this be the substance of your message? Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God.”

2 thoughts on “Only One Paint Brush?

  1. To be captive to ‘principles’ means never having to change your mind and I get that it’s not desirable to be utterly entrenched on every issue big or small.

    I occupy space well left of centre. My reason with sticking to that is that I can’t grasp how there can be “sensible middle ground” on immigration, LBGTQ rights, abortion rights, transgender soldiers, the death penalty?

    I suppose some level of compromise – or at the least – listening/respecting another’s POV is possible but, take the example of gay marriage. In the recent past, the issue was pretty much settled, or so it seemed: marriage was seen by a majority as something that happened between a man and a woman and the very notion of same-sex unions was considered extreme. That middle ground was: no marriage for gay people.

    And the reason that opinion changed was because those who might have been consider extreme in the past argued the case and kept at it and citizens came to agree that what many gay couples wanted wasn’t so very extreme after all.

    If we all just sat on the fence in the interest of being ‘reasonable’ I don’t think that any of the social ills of the past would ever have been redressed.

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  2. A real estate company in the USA is now marketing areas that will appeal to citizens of a certain political stripe…eg, this area is best suited to Republicans, etc etc.
    This kind of thinking will do nothing to close the gap between left and right and find any “middle of the road”

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