Center Line


I don’t think I actually gave this meme a second thought when I posted it. I saw the image, it resonated, so I hit “Share” without even bothering to comment on it. I liked it’s generalized philosophy of “quit fighting over sides and move forward”. It was posted in between an article entitled “Never Forget, Rock N Roll was Invented By A Queer Black Woman” and an image of a needlework project reading “If you see someone falling behind, walk beside them. If you see someone being ignored, find a way to include them. Always remind people of their worth. One small act could mean the world to them.”

So, clearly I was not trying to make the world’s most vehement political statement.

Still, I woke up the next morning to find comments from several friends taking umbrage with my post, particularly criticizing it for it’s centrist stance.

“Right: Black people and immigrants and gays need to be exterminated. There, I fixed it.” Said one.

“When you’re moving “forward” there is no center, it’s relative. you have to make a CHOICE. The “Middle” is stagnation and submission.” Said another.

This was all hitting me before I’d even put my contacts in, so I felt my defenses go up before I even really had a chance to turn my brain on. I felt… attacked. Or, at least, I suddenly felt myself take up a defensive position, dig a moat, plant a minefield, arm the battlements and put snipers in every tower. And these were, and are, people that I consider friends and generally align with on most political matters. If I was getting this defensive over comments from people I generally agree with and respect, no wonder we’re so divided as a country.

I batted responses back and forth for most of the morning, doing my best to put some thought into what it was about the responses that was bothering me and why I had made the post in the first place. And now that the adrenaline has died down and I no longer feel like I’m beseiged by Vandals and Visigoths, I’m actually glad that these individuals challenged me and forced me to articulate my point of view on the subject.

There is an attitude nowadays, particularly from the left, that to be a centrist is to be a vile collaborator with those extremist-right elements reveling in white supremacy, fascism, and preparing for Civil War II Electric Boogaloo. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” says Edmund Burke. Centrists, in this case, being the do-nothing-good-men.

I can see where they’re coming from: if you’re not prepared to stand against something, what do you stand for and so on. It’s a dilemma I’ve run my mind across quite a lot in These Times. There’s really no part of me that agrees with the conservative stance: I’m quite solidly left of center in my actual ideals, but I still consider myself a centrist. Why? Was I just too cowardly to take a real stand? Was I letting evil triumph by doing nothing just because I was in a position of privilege to do so? Was I trying to “hippie my way out of Nazis” as my friend so pithily stated?

“To say that the only way to make progress is through extremism is problematic.” I replied. The nicest way I could think of saying “Ain’t Nobody But Nobody Gonna Tells Me How To Think!” It’s one of the biggest problems that I have with the far left: the attitude that anything less than rabid, wholehearted, woke, all-accepting, aggressive promotion of the party line is unacceptable. Anybody that tells me that I need to toe a party line in spite of my own conscience throws up a red flag in my mind.

So, if not through extremism, how could I still justify my moderate stance as “still being progress”? I found myself thinking about the big, peaceful protests still happening in cities all around the country going largely un-remarked now that there was no longer any rioting and looting to bring the cameras. I found myself thinking about conservative Supreme Court justices upholding LGTBQIA rights and Dreamer statuses in spite of party lines. I found myself thinking about my own, right-leaning parents whom I respect greatly for their ability to give me insight into their points of view because, like me, they are close enough to center that we can communicate and actually listen to one another. I found myself thinking about local elections that deal with things like fixing roads and funding libraries and parks- things that everybody needs but nobody waves a flag about.

Mostly, what I came to realize, is that being a centrist is not a philosophy of ideals, it is a philosophy of practicality. It is the nuts-and-bolts attitude of trying to fix what needs fixing and build what needs building on an every day, human level. It is finding ways to grind away at the world’s big problems from the underside: making the hungry less hungry, making the desperate less desperate, making the lonely less lonely. And learning to not become so defensive about my opinions that I can’t change them if I find they are unworthy of my best self.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 23, 2020.

7 Responses to “Center Line”

  1. I love this post. Its how I feel too. The left’s holier than thou attitude really bothers me. I really think the party that would do away with free speech if they could, would be the democrats.
    Yet i want to agree with the democrats.
    Of course, they both want us to pick sides. if we pick sides we dont have to think. I dont think either side is better in this regard.
    To paraphrase someone .. whose name i cant remember…
    the problem is not whether it’s the democrats or republicans, the problem IS the democrats and Republicans.
    They both need to remember we are all Americans … and all people.. until politicians do that I’m not gonna bother.

    • Right?! I hate being told not to follow my conscience and to think critically.

    • Right? It’s hard to commit to someone when there’s an attitude of YOU’RE NOT AGREEING WITH ME ENOUGH. The tricky part is staying active and trying to address issues without the momentum that a big party can provide. But, then again, this is America: if we can’t put that self-reliant, independent-thinking, pioneer-spirit towards making our communities better then what good are we?

  2. If friends are clashing this way, then I wonder if we aren’t all subject to some brainwashing from the media sources we turn to like pacifiers, even if they only supply added distress woven into excessive verbiage and imagery. What if we all are being induced into clashing from something in the air…or air waves? How else can we be both friends and enemies riling our defenses and offenses?

    Personally, I am tired of being “challenged” to defend my position. I am tired of feeling like I am in a courtroom for every little thing I think of, speak about or feel like trying. I am tired of being stagnated by opposition and fear-inducing forces when so much of the world around me is acting without such caution and letting the chips fall where they may. But, maybe, that, too, is an illusion. Perhaps, I am being prodded for the amusement of some sinister force, prodded to think it’s time and I am free to act out when, in fact, I should remain stationary and merely meditate on the meaning of life.

    Personally, I don’t get involved in all of this RIGHT and LEFT to even understand what each means or represents. And, to be fair, I just don’t really care; for me to care, I’d just add more stress to my plate and fret myself senseless because I would be confronted with an insurmountable conflict between two factions larger than the average protest mob. All I can say is, like your Forward fraction of the image, I don’t see the sense in two factions clashing and never finding a way to work together. Yes, the grand old democratic system, that supposedly was born in ancient Greece, was supposed to be better than some heir to the throne taking control of countless people’s lives…which, in its own American way, was like the colonists fleeing from the British only to wind up in a few wars before the whole agreement was settled; and now the USA can shake hands with the Brits and work together, at least, some of the time. But, giving people two DIFFERENT candidates to choose from was not supposed to divide the people like a civil war. And, yet, that’s what is has been for too long.

    I hate to repeat myself, but I see only one solution to the immediate problem. Democracy must change to be without parties. The USA, and any other democracy, must not give candidates party labels but let their platforms speak for themselves. It’s like giving a child choices; if you give the child a choice you know they don’t selfishly want, they’ll hastily shout NO! and turn away from it. But, if you color the unfavorable choice in a way that appeals to the child, they will likely leap into its arms…and that is often how kids are deceived by creeps. So, no deception. But, we need to take away the coloring that causes conflict; we need to take away the red and blue and let people decide who they support as leadership based upon what they value an do, not the colors they wear.

  3. One question…why is the gal…if she is a gal…on the left so “rough” while the gal on the right is so pretty? 😛

    • That sounds like a question whose answer is in the eye of the beholder

      • True. But… Well…. Perhaps, then, there is a reason I am attracted to the girl on the right. Yet, that gets me wondering if I am not being seduced by some Sith deceiver. Maybe it’s like that Star-Wars episode of That 70s Show, when Jackie appears as a stormtrooper and says the people on the dark side are better looking. Eh. Who knows.

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