Wednesday, February 8, 2017

On the Fence

Carrying on from yesterday's writing (which I added here just a moment ago).

I do want to make it more clear that the "Sledgehammer Guy," himself, should not be seen as doing anything noble.  He's not going to be the person who does any of the work to fix anything, all he is going to do is wreck it.  You don't thank the drunk driver who totalled your beat-up old car, even if you were fortunately not injured in the crash, and even if the replacement car you had to buy is nicer and gets better gas mileage.

Nor do the drunk driver's actions become more excusable with the assertion that "things were already broken."  Let's be honest, there's two different kinds of broken: the crack-in-the-windshield, busted-tail-light, dented-bumper kind, and the crumpled-mess-of-metal-that-makes-you-say-"Oh My God" kind.  And enduring the change from the first kind to the second kind is never a happy occasion.
Yes, things were broken already.  But we are moving from "broken" as in, chipped, cracked, flawed, and leaking; to "broken" as in, thousands of shards all over the floor, which will cut our hands as we pick them all up, and will cut our feet if we miss any, which we inevitably will.

Yesterday, I wrote about my hope for the blessing that could come from these recent events.  For every hope, though, there is a corresponding fear.  For me, now, that fear is that once things are openly and indubitably broken, instead of coming together in the middle and starting the work to rebuild things even better than they were, we are just going to have a huge fight about whose fault the brokenness is.  It will be the natural impulse, it will be what feels good at the time, and it will be an unnecessary, ridiculous, and bloody wrestling match on top of the broken shards that we will each blame the other for, and that nobody will clean up even though now everyone is being equally cut.

Sadly, I worry I see signs of this bloody wrestling match already.  The current attitude is definitely not one of working together to rebuild.  The current attitude is, "You did this to us, so now let's see how you like it."  Hopefully, this will change as cooler heads prevail, though I fear it won't.

The key will be to start resisting the emotional pull to combat extreme viewpoints with equally-and-oppositely extreme viewpoints, and to move toward moderation instead.  This will be difficult, because historically, the only group vilified more than extreme liberals or extreme conservatives are the moderates, who want to live in the space in the middle.  They "ride the fence."  They "play both sides." They're "not with us, so they're against us." They just "tell both 'sides' what they want to hear." They're "neither hot nor cold, so I will spew them from my mouth."*
Even with dogs--two dogs can bark at each other from either side of a fence all day; but have a squirrel run across the top of the fence, and suddenly the dogs are in perfect agreement that the squirrel is the Bad Guy.

But here's what I think:  That thing in the middle, that divides us?  It's not a fence.  That's the road.  The two "sides" that we have divided ourselves off into?  Those are called ditches.  Make no mistake, right now we are all off in the ditches.
And you know, honestly, it can actually be a pretty wide road.  There can be a left lane, for people who like to apply the gas more liberally, and there can be a right lane, for those who drive more conservatively, and several more lanes in between so there's room for everybody.
I do know this:  Until we stop arguing about whether the Left Ditch or the Right Ditch is the best one to be off into, and until we straighten out the massive pile-up and get ourselves back up on the road where we belong, none of us are ever going to get anywhere.

*:  For those who get the reference, this last one shows just how far back anti-moderate sentiment goes.

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