Vaccine vs. No Vaccine. Mask vs. No Mask. Black vs. White. Homosexual vs. Heterosexual. Republican vs. Democrat. Christian vs. Muslim. And on and on…
These days, everywhere I turn folks are arguing over one side or another. It’s destroying relationships. It’s pumping negativity into life with exacerbating speed and it’s making many of us go crazy because it’s an endless circle— there are no solutions.
They say we have to choose — one side or the other. Period. End of story.
Well, I’m calling bulllllllllshit.
Before I go any further, let me be clear — this is NOT an attempt to play neutral, to not have an opinion, or to spiritually bypass the realities of our everyday.
I’ve got a much better idea.
How about we meet in the middle? How about we recognize that there is space for BOTH sides and that by recognizing and respecting both sides, we create a third option.
One that can serve each of us.
I don’t know where we ever got the idea that everyone could agree on any one thing? Look at a room full of kindergarteners! They all have their own ideas about how something works and scream and yell to get it.
We weren’t born to agree. In fact, agreeing is B O R I N G. Think about how little we’d know, how little we’d do and how little we’d grow if we always agreed.
Personally, my ego loves people who agree with me, but I only learn from those who don’t.
Yes, there are places in life where agreement must be had. Yes, making or coming to an agreement is good for the soul. BUT it doesn’t happen until both sides listen and have respect for the other one.
And that’s going to take a while.
Looking for millions of people to agree on any one thing is a fool’s endeavor of the highest order. Looking for billions of people to agree is even worse.
We do not have the same backgrounds. We were not raised the same, in the same place, or by the same people. We are not the same color, same sex, same religion, same ANYTHING.
SO WHY WOULD WE EVER AGREE?
But in spite of that, there is room for everyone. Truly.
Case in point, last August, when many basketball teams were kneeling in protest against racial injustice at the hands of police, a beautiful moment was captured. This photo was taken of teammates — some who kneeled in protest over inequality while others stood for their military/police family members. YET they held hands in unity out of love and respect for BOTH sides.
That is the middle space.
The middle space gives room for your side AND my side. It says both are valid because each of us is valid. Our views are valid. Our experiences are valid. Our feelings are valid. And therefore we can agree to disagree and make space for both.
I get it, this is lofty thinking. But I’m not backing down.
Meeting in the middle space requires love. It requires respect. AND it requires the heart of the individual to seek solutions for the collective vs. their own.
But the best part is that it doesn’t require the individual to change their viewpoint or acquiesce for the sake of peace. It allows them to keep what is rightfully theirs.
Each side is valid.
Another case in point — this one was personal. I’m a registered Democrat but would happily vote for ANYONE who I believe loves our country and wants the best for it. One of my closest friends is a diehard Republican. The morning of the Georgia runoff, I had messaged him to see how he was holding up and his response shook me. Mind you, we were exchanging voice messages so his emotions came across clearly. He told me that he couldn’t really talk about politics at that time because Biden getting into office had upset him as much as losing his mother two weeks prior. He didn’t exactly mention Biden but the Democratic takeover was implied.
I felt his sadness. I felt his pain. I felt his fear.
And it hit me — he felt like I did in 2016, the night Trump won the election. I laid in bed wide awake almost the entire night and walked around depressed for days.
I saw the middle space SO CLEARLY.
Because his pain was just as real as mine had been. Because his feelings were just as important. Here was a person I love and care about and my heart genuinely hurt over his pain even though I didn’t agree with it.
THAT is the middle space. And it’s where we need to start moving — as individuals and as a collective.
We don’t need to wear ourselves out shouting and screaming across the aisle. We don’t need to engage in lower behavior just to get our point across. We don’t need to act like enemies! And we certainly don’t need to treat each other as enemies.
We are NOT enemies! I know with total certainty that if both sides of any camp were able to come together, sit face-to-face, and discuss the topic, we’d see there are more similarities than differences. We basically ALL want the same thing.
BUT we have to be willing to do the work to get there. We have to actively, intentionally, purposefully look for the middle space in each and every encounter that we can.
I can promise you that I’ll be doing my part and I hope this has inspired you to begin doing the same. We won’t get it right every time. We won’t be perfect. BUT we’ll continue to improve and eventually our work will spread to others.
Please, join me — in the middle space.