India Arie has this song, called “Back to the Middle” . It’s a soulful ballad with djembe drums, piano, bass, and guitar.
Interlaced throughout the song she tells these heartfelt narratives about the lives of different individuals in pretty hard circumstances that are common to most people.
The message of the song- going back to the middle, balance- these things have been on my heart as of late.
Polarization can be a volatile thing.
There is a distortion of reality that takes place when extreme ends are lauded and the middle is ignored.
Yet the middle is where we see a great deal of the reality and diversity of our world.
Recently, NPR’s TED Talk hour did individual segments on Race, Abortion, the Two Major Parties in American politics, and the Conflict in Israel.
Each of these topics has gut wrenching ,polarizing realities.
The candor and thoroughness of the individuals speaking on each of those topics and related “middles” left listeners (especially me and those I’ve spoken to) with hope.
Check it out, it’s worth the listen.
The world is full of paradigms and in betweens. The world is full of “middles”.
For people of faith, I think it’s important to remember that God manifested and subsumed the entire cosmos with “middles” which is all the more reason God is big enough for our own “middles”
Personally, one of my middles was coming to terms with rather or not my emotional, relational and sexual orientation is inherently sinful or is it a gift from God. There are tons of debate and a literal divide for both LGB people of faith in the Church and those connected / affected by them on which of these is true.
For me, I’ve landed on one side of the seeming paradox but I also embrace the middle.
I believe firmly that this part of my humanity and full personhood is not sinful but rather a gift from God yet I recognize the value of those who don’t hold this view.
This paradox and this middle where the divide spreads in either direction causes LGB individuals of Christian faith to lead lives on different trajectories.
Some committing themselves to celibacy, others seeking marital companionship with their same gender. Both, (celibacy and same-gender marriage ) in my honest reflection, are gifts from God.
Aside from my personal reality I would like to point simply to nature itself to speak about the “middle”
Swamps and marshes are ecosystems of earth and water interspersed.
Myriads of “types” exist within any given species.
Dusk and Dawn exist not quite night, not quite day.
There are people, actual human beings who are born male, and “feel” male.
There are people, actual human beings who are born female and “feel” female.
There are people, actual human beings who are born with physical body parts that are both male and female.
There are people, actual human beings who are born with a physical body that does not correspond to their internal reality. A reality that may or may not fit with their physical body at birth.
(Side note to those who would dismiss or scoff at the idea of an internal reality- I just ask that you humbly reflect on how you perceive your own identity and your relation to the world around you and to consider that even that is a complex thing that is not wholly dependent on your genitalia)
There is a whole spectrum of gender that is beyond the binary.
Discriminatory legislation exists and it affects real people.
Actual human beings.
Sometimes I take for granted that I know Trans people. That I can literally name six when the majority of the people in my life probably couldn’t name one they personally knew. So when I see social media posts from friends who openly support legislation that would add to an already difficult life for Trans and Gender non-conforming individuals it makes sense to me to a degree because for them there is no face to this “enemy” there is no personal relationship with this nameless “other” that supposedly makes room for the harm of women and children.
There must be a move away from polarization and a return to the middle.
The world around us so readily recognizes in our own life experiences (where things are rarely black and white but hues of gray) and in nature itself – a great many “middles”
There must be continued education, grace, compassion, if we are to move forward as a nation and as better human beings overall.
Thanks for stopping by.
Further reading from two close friends who have written about the recent legislation surrounding bathrooms and transgender individuals