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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Finding Middle Ground

In life, most human beings attempt to find compromise whenever conflict comes about.  It's in our nature to try to get along with one another, with the occasional rift and bug up our collective butts to stir the pot.  But generally, society tries to get along with one another.  In political rhetoric during campaigns, there is very little talk of compromise.  Once they get into office, however, the name of the game is compromise and that's not always a bad thing. In relationships, however, it is critical to be able to find middle ground, to pick our battles wisely. More often than not, however, egos get in the way, perception and image overrule our ability to truly identify that which would grow and strengthen the relationship.  In truth, that's where we absolutely go against human nature and feed off the decaying flesh of our dark existence.

Take, for example, talk radio.  In order for talk radio to maintain listeners, there must be an antagonist for every show.  In some cases, the protagonist (host) will make one up for each segment - the devil in every bush kind of dialog.  The purpose is to give listeners a reason to feel compassion for the host, to align themselves ideologically on a specific topic of importance.  Talk radio is big on the issue of illegal immigration.  Why?  Because it's an 80 percentile issue - 80% of people in this country believe there is a problem with current immigration policy.  Keeping in mind that the vast majority of listeners to talk radio are pretty conservative and dominate the 54 + demographic, you'll see hosts hint at issues of yesteryear that we all remember and get pissed off about in order to keep you listening.  I say this as a former talk show host, so I know the tricks of the trade and the bigger the name, the bigger the tricks are.  Some talk show hosts don't even fully believe the crap they're spewing but they do it just to piss people off and keep them listening.  Forget finding middle ground where talk radio is concerned.  It will never happen because in order for talk radio to survive, it must, by its very nature, be confrontational.

Let's talk about the institution of marriage, shall we?  You have two people who love each other (at least
initially), and they decide to surrender themselves to another.  In most cases, the surrender includes identity, emotion, and in extreme cases, spirituality as well.  This is agreed upon, mind you, at the very beginning.  The whole "two become one flesh" thing is repeated over and over until it's part of our DNA. Sadly, what it doesn't deal with is the fact that even within the marriage, there must be individuality. It's when two people truly are themselves that legitimate compromise can be established.  For example, if you have two people in a marriage who are very different in personality, in tastes and one of those two feels as though in order to keep the peace, he/she must change who they are systemically and mold themselves into the image the spouse desires.  You see, the problem with that is if a human being decides to give up their identity, their persona, the frustration  and battle that rages internally will eventually manifest itself.  Circumstantial compromise is acceptable in a marriage, but not compromise of identity.

As a culture, we're less and less likely to find middle ground.  We love to fight.  We love the adrenaline rush, the surge of blood to our minds as we prepare to launch into action.  We're addicted to the fight.  We want to fight.  If you don't believe that, just consider how many lawyers we graduate and are accepted to the Bar each year...

But I digress.

If we are to regain some sense of our humanity, our compassionate and caring side that I know is still there somewhere, we have to turn off the television, turn off the damned radio and actually interact with one another.  We must have compassion, rather than simply a passion for our own agenda - it doesn't work in personal relationships, it can't work as a cultural norm. We must make a conscious effort to listen with the intention of hearing and understanding, not merely the intention to reply.  Whether it be politics, talk radio or marriage, we must remember those differences among us are more than just a cause for battle.  They are the fabric of humanity. There will never come a time that we all stand together as one - no one is that stupid.  Without individuality constantly presenting an opposing view, there would never be change or growth.  We would become a truly stagnant society.  But yet, it is within our ability to celebrate our differences, to reach a middle ground on issues without sacrificing who we are or what we believe.  The problem is that we would rather fight than be happy and afford those around us the opportunity to be happy as well.  We want to win at all costs and we don't care what kind of damage we cause in the process.  If we don't change, we're doomed.  Hell, it may be too late.

Of course, I could be wrong.  But I seriously doubt it.