I recently published an article on middlepath thinking that generated several comments from readers who questioned whether a middlepath consciousness is powerful enough to deal with the extreme positions and apparent lack of ethics that politicians in Washington are proposing on subjects such as gun control, immigration, gay marriage, women’s rights, and severe budget cuts that will seriously impact the poor, disadvantaged, and elderly.
They felt that middlepath thinking would be too mild to change the firmly held beliefs of those who support such extreme political and religious positions. Their concern was middlepath thinking would only encourage status quo thinking.
In more colorful bat-crazy, wing-nut language, others felt that the lack of social ethics represented by the current extreme ideological thinking in Washington… could only be effectively countered by the use of more forceful responses from the other side of the issues in question.
Here’s how I responded to their concerns.
“Thanks for the feedback. When your ego insists that the far-right is wing-nut, bat-crazy, far-wrong… you’re right …but not because of their particular ideological position.
You’re right in your thinking because anytime an ideological position represents an extreme that represents only one side of the middlepath, that extreme position will always end up manifesting significant, and ultimately harmful, pathology… aggressive behavior, the imperative voice of absolute truth, total rejection of the wisdom found on the other side of the middlepath, and dangerously closed minds.
In the words of philosopher Wendell Berry… those who go to the extreme margins of an issue do us a great service when they clarify the wisdom and possibilities found in the territory that exists on each side of an issue. He also reminded us that a civilized society must always find a way to live with a new vision of the truth… a vision that integrates the wisdom found at both extremes… a middlepath consciousness that reflects compromise.
So I would caution using “wing-nut, bat-crazy” language because it will hijack your emotions and cause you to take an equally extreme position on the other side of the middlepath… which will cause you to introduce the pathologies that exist in the extremes on that side of the issue.
In other words, when we resist another person’s extreme ideological position too strongly, we are in danger of becoming that which we are resisting. Darkness is defeated by light, not more darkness.
Rather than resisting an extreme ideology, it’s important to remember that there is great power in simply embracing the truths found on “both” sides of the middlepath… and then actively search for ways that you personally can begin to reflect a middlepath position so-as-to become the change that you would like to see in the world.
When we take a middlepath stance and eliminate “resisting” we begin to create change that will be more balanced and helpful. And as I said above, when enough of us are on the middlepath in our thinking, change will happen… and the political environment will begin to shift back to center.