November 10, 2006
Several years ago I was at a Rotary Club meeting where the speaker was discussing a controversial issue that had strong advocates on either side but a large middle ground as well. The speaker had a decided bent himself and near the end of the discussion said, “The only thing that you get by standing in the middle of the road is run over.” Really, I asked myself? I think if I had to stand on the highway I would prefer taking my chances in the middle because I know without doubt if I stand in one of the lanes, I will most assuredly get run over. What he really meant was that we needed to agree with him. During this recent election there was no shortage of people telling me to get out of the middle of the road. What I rarely heard was a reasonable discussion of the issues. The only way we seem to “discuss” things these days is to shout louder than the other person. He who is loudest wins.
The first definition of “moderate” is avoiding extremes. That is not a bad thing. Moderation can be especially good in health related issues. It can also be good when considering social, political, and personal issues. It does not mean that a person cannot have strong opinions or adhere to immutable personal values. It does mean that a person can dial down the intensity in order to hear other opinions and tolerate other views. It also is not synonymous to mediocrity as some would have us believe.
One of the great problems we have in religion and in politics is that the people on the extreme right and the extreme left drown out everyone else in the din created by their yelling at one another. It has become the American way. Maybe it is because moderates by nature are non-confrontational and thus there is a vacuum to fill. Maybe it is because honest dialogue is boring.
Regardless, it is usually reasonable people who get things solved. Don’t get me wrong. We need people who are passionate about the issues. They make all of us better thinkers. I just wish they could stop yelling long enough for the rest of us to get in a word edgewise.
I try not to be a “proof-texter” and use a verse or two out of the Bible to suit my own needs. I do however think the idea of Scripture is clear that a person should learn to master their passions, behave in an orderly manner, think soberly, and avoid extremes. We would all do well to pay attention if we want to steadily grow toward the balanced example of Christ.