Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Advocating Extremes Is Easy; Real Life in the Middle Is Hard - but Worthwhile

I'm old enough to have "shifted" substantially on various issues over time. Much of the perception of my beliefs in the Bloggernacle is based on the fact that I don't like inconsistency and one-sided arguments - so I end up addressing comments that exhibit those traits. Those comments tend to be the most extreme on both sides. That means I end up on predominantly liberal sites being called too conservative, while I end up on predominantly conservative sites being called too liberal - all because I tend to believe the best solutions lie somewhere in the middle of the extremes in most cases. 

Frankly, and as bluntly as I can say this while still grinning from ear to ear, I have found that my current path is MUCH harder to walk and requires a complete lack of complacency - while advocating most extremes is incredibly easy. It's very difficult and taxing to read every single comment in a post before commenting, try to read very carefully every word everyone says, remember the gist and general content of every comment, go back and re-read former comments prior to responding to make sure I don't misinterpret, consider each word in a comment to which I respond and what it might mean, look for any ways to read others' comments charitably (seeing, for example, where a particular word used probably, based on overall context, means what a different word would have conveyed better), contemplate the best way to structure a response, re-read each response I construct, edit it at least once before submitting it, etc. Honestly, I go through that process almost every time I comment (and regret it almost every time I don't), and there is no complacency involved in it.  

I try to tackle every issue of every topic that same way - reading each and every comment for insight into how it can influence my own view of the topic. This approach has molded my view on many issues over the years, and those views have changed and continue to change. It's just that I tend to respond in public settings to the comments that are the most extreme (on both sides of whatever the issue is being discussed), so my comments on group blogs generally are more in response to others than passionate statements of my own beliefs. As I have spent more time in the Bloggernacle, I have written those (passionate statements of my own beliefs) in group settings more often, but they are nowhere near the majority of my comments. 

I expect others to be more passionate about some topics than I will be. It is more personal to them than to me, and it hits them much harder than it hits me. If that means I appear to be more “complacent” about those particular topics than some others are, perhaps that is a fair statement. It just doesn’t mean I am a complacent person. What it means is that I am trying my best to walk my own path in the way that is most consistent with the dictates of my own conscience - and, while that approach is harder than advocating extremes, it is MUCH more worthwhile, in my opinion. 


Michelle said...

One of my sayings as of late is that God is often found in the tension.

The difficulty with that is that much of this really is a personal journey, and is very hard to articulate. I think it's also difficult because in order to navigate the tensions that exist, you have to have a clear understanding of both endpoints, as it were. And I think our human nature to want to avoid tension means that we often don't think through those endpoints.

So, take grace and works for example. Which do we believe in? Both, of course, but it's very difficult to articulate that. You sort of have to feel it, live it, learn it by experience and revelation. And if you eliminate either one, you won't really get to truth.

Who is more important in God's plan, men or women? Of course it's both, but you have to understand the different elements and teachings about our roles and responsibilities and how they interact and combine to form a whole in the doctrine.

There are even nuts and bolts facets of this. How do you balance family life priorities and all the other pulls on our time and energy? I think we have to be willing to lay everything on the table (or maybe the altar) and then ask God what to do with the tensions we feel each day. And we are best able to do this when armed with true principles as taught by prophets of God.

On the other hand, I think sometimes we create false tensions where there really are more absolutes. Even in saying that, I contradict myself and create another space with tension. ;)

True agency can only happen when we are armed with truth. Some of that is more absolute, some of it is found at a personal level. To discern between those things is part of the journey.

Am I making any sense? Prolly not, but these are just some things I have been mulling over lately.

Anonymous said...

Wow,Michelle.So very useful to me.Something I have been mulling around for some time.Since I am generally in the muddle in the middle,I have real certainty about very few things.

Ray,you are a moderator in the true and original sense of the word.