Standing in the Middle

"Now standing in the middle has its advantages and disadvantages.  Common sense tends to pull people to the middle of issues, so those standing in the middle usually have peer support.  Those in the middle, however, don't have the luxury of having to defend only a single flank - they get shot at from both sides." - Ric Machuga, In Defense of the Soul, What It Means to Be Human
This was only a passing remark made in the book I am currently reading, but it caught my eye because the older I get the more often find myself occupying the middle ground on so many issues.

Standing in the middle is what often happens when you give both sides of a matter a fair listen. Both sides usually have at least part of the matter right.  If to the left of you the right hand is correct, you take hold of it.  If to the right the left hand holds truth, you take hold of that. Next thing you know you're standing between the two, holding hands with them both.

A happy picture, is it not?  You have a friend on either side. But what you also have on either side is the enemy of the other.  You in the middle bear a heavy weight of responsibility.  You are what stands between the rivals and their mutual destruction. You represent the common ground and the potential for peace. Those on either side of you have a couple of choices.  They can, if they respect you, each respect what you see in the other and let you help bridge the gap, or they can continue to tear each other apart and destroy you in the process.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." Mt. 5:9


John Child said…
Thanks for a great reflection, Laurie! I've never thought of being in the middle quite like that but you're right.

I've been both on the left & on the right & sometimes in some circles my left has been others' right! Now, like you, I increasingly find myself in the middle in listening to & seeking to understand both sides though not usually in conflict situations needing peacemaking.
Jessica Watson said…

This resonated with me! I, too, find myself often in the middle on many issues, somehow, just not able to be so absolutely dogmatic about certain things as my friends are - politically, theologically, etc. I'm not trying to skirt the truth, I just see that truth is complex, nuanced. I had never thought about it the way you laid it out though, so thank you - you are such a clear thinker!
Laurie M. said…
Thanks, Jessica!

As for clear thinking, that is what writing does for me. It is the process by which I can line up my thoughts and put them to the test. I have many times realized, through the process of writing, that my arguments are flawed. Then I have to start over. (Maybe this is why I'm not a very prolific writer!)

As for skirting the truth, I think that, very often, either side of an issue has taken only one aspect of the truth and run with it, leaving the rest behind, when the whole truth is found somewhere in the middle.

Popular Posts