In the current climate of belligerent take no prisoners and back down to no one politics, one hears the constant but unheeded plea for searching out the middle ground through honest negotiation and compromise.
The problem is that the middle ground is often a boggy place where everyone is equally unhappy, certain that the other side got the best deal. A shiny face is normally put on it through public pronouncements about what a fine decision was made, and how everyone affected by it will be so much better off. Only the most naive believe that, but it’s the way we do things.
There is another way, and it has little to do with the middle ground. It involves discovering and illuminating the truth within each argument so that a decision can be made that honors all of it and incorporates as much of it as possible. Sometimes that requires deep probing because the underlying truth within any argument may have more to do with beliefs and attitudes, especially those driven by anxiousness, than by alleged facts. Indeed, when anxiety or fear is an important factor, one may even need to probe for illumination of what one is anxious about or afraid of.
I thought about that today listening to a conversation on NPR about the pros and cons of free trade agreements in which the participants appeared to really listen to each other in civil conversation allowed me to begin to hear the truth that lived in sharply differing sides. The same cannot be said for much of what passes for debate in the public arena.
Beginning with talk radio, stopping everywhere along the way, and ending up in Congress, political discourse has become one act in America’s circus of gladiatorial combat in which the only objective is to shut down the other as quickly as possible with the most invective as possible. Slaughter or be slaughtered, is that the game we have to play? That’s very sad, and it’s terribly disappointing to see so many self ascribed Christians playing it with abandon.