The Middle IS a Position

This gummy bear is caught in the is our author.

by Joey Rodman

“Whose side are you on anyway?” My friend barked out over the phone. I paused for a second and tried to think of what to say but before I could she hung up. I desperately wanted to say I was on her side, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t on the opposing side either. I just, well, I guess I was on my side. My side is the one where this whole fight didn’t involve me so I wasn’t going to involve myself in it. This apparently was not an option.

I’ve never been much of an “us vs. them” thinker. People say there are two sides to every coin, but I think there are at least three. I remember reading Robert Frost’s poem about the two roads in the woods and how he chose the one less traveled. While I commend him for this I always wondered if he wasn’t still playing it safe. I mean he could have just wandered off where there wasn’t a path. Sure it’s not as safe or comfortable, but it can be done.

Unbeaten path treks come at a price, and in Oklahoma it’s a pretty hefty price. Orange or Crimson? Neither? Both? I’m happy if an Oklahoma team does well. This gets me labeled as a fair weather fan… which is SO not the case. I point to my undying affinity for the Chicago Cubs to prove that I am least of all unfaithful and mostly a glutton for punishment. I can look at which team has a better record, but these things are not very important to me (remember my Cubs fandom?). I look better in Crimson but I know a lot of really great OSU alums too. Should I pick a team based on how good it’s sweatshirt looks or by the company of it’s season ticket holders?

No, neither of those are fair criteria. In the absence of a clear choice, I make none. It’s not even that I don’t care, I just can’t figure out which team is “better” and honestly, I don’t feel like I should have to. There are other options, liking both, liking neither, ignoring that football exists. These are all, in my opinion, viable alternatives.

There are other areas where it’s not and “us vs. them” in reality but it appears to be in practice. People who have had political discussions with me invariably decide that I’m on “the other side”. Conservatives call me liberal. Liberals call me conservative. No matter what common ground we have, one divergent opinion puts me on the outs. For the record, according to an online test

I happen to be pretty much in the middle. People will say “why don’t you pick a side?” and I feel like I have. I declare the middle to be a side. I picked a side on a wide variety of issues, it just happens that my “side” on them waivers between left and right depending on the issue and that leaves me with an average, well, almost smack dab in the middle of the line. In a culture where people’s political opinions can mostly be summed up on a bumper sticker, I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. My car does not have enough bumper space to put even ONE of my political opinions. I find it’s best not to even try to talk about it.

The pressure to pick a side is high right now. Everyone wants to know where you stand. Orange or Crimson? Elephant or Donkey? My side or theirs? Well, my answers are not short or even easy to explain and they’re always evolving. I think there are so many sides to an issue that a simple “pro” or “against” is oversimplifying things to where they’re nearly meaningless. I look at all sides of an issue and sometimes I don’t come out full force on one side or another because I find valid points from both sides, or more often from a side that’s not presented as an option. I don’t like closed choices because I like to keep an open mind. Chocolate or vanilla? I’ll take buttered pecan, thanks.



5 thoughts on “The Middle IS a Position”

  1. When I was growing up, my dear Okie dad always told me, “Nanc, life is a bundle of compromises.” I love the point you make about your answers evolving. 50 years ago, they told us cigarettes were good for us. Aren’t we glad we didn’t have to stick with *that* answer?

  2. Having grown up as the “middle” child….I agree…. the middle IS a side. It is more difficult to convey your message, but because of that, you are a stronger more outspoken person!

  3. @Ms. Onesider: Thank you for making her point.

    @ Joey: Nuance is hard for some people to understand. It’s easier to try and live in a black and white world where everything has a single “right” choice and a single “wrong” choice. That way, you get to look down your nose at all the people who make the “wrong” choice and pretend that anyone who doesn’t fit into your little boxes is “wishywashy”.

  4. Joey, I’m right there with ya! It was always a problem writing persuasive essays. I can see both sides. So hard to choose sometimes. I’m so glad I’m not alone.:)

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