Living in the Tension of the Middle: Part II

In this series I am addressing the tension that most of us feel in a world that seems to be as divided as ever. I contend that the world has always had these divisions but that the reach and speed of media today makes extreme views more prevalent and certainly LOUDER.

Today, I would like to address the topic of speaking truth in love. You may think of this as being full of grace and truth. Extreme views on one end or another of an issue are often expressed without love or grace. In fact, I would venture to say that if you ever start a conversation with “I say this with love” you are likely to say something in a way which will not exhibit love at all. Giving your viewpoint in a grace-filled manner will speak for itself.

On the topic of tension, I need to address this idea of truth before I go any further. Here are my views, and I hope you will not find them extreme. If you do, please leave a comment on this blog. (I will accept it as being said in grace and love without you saying so!)

  • Absolute truth exists. The earth is round, for example. I am a human, for another.
  • Even absolute truth will have detractors. A tip of the hat to you, flat-earthers. And, of course, many statements of absolute truth can be debated at some level. Is the earth round, or is it an ellipsoid? The definition of round is not an absolute truth.
  • At least some of the ideas that an individual holds as an absolute truth, are not absolute. We often make the mistake of holding an opinion so tightly that we mistake it as truth.
  • Truth may reside in one of the extremes on an issue, but it more often resides in the middle. At the very least, it is best expressed from a position held in the middle. A position we see as extreme today may, in fact, prove to be in the middle.
  • Most importantly, not all truths are absolute. Most issues that cause tension in our world are complicated and nuanced.

So how do we navigate the tension in the middle of this topic of truth, love, and grace? It must begin with humility. The understanding that you do not yet know everything, the desire to learn from others, and accepting that even absolute truth has detractors will place you in a mindset such that you will not express yourself in a way that is viewed as extreme or radical. When you accept yourself as flawed and focus on addressing your own faults you will be less inclined to approach others critically.

Then, we must be willing to interact with people who think differently. Most of us reside in the middle. Disagreement does not place people on opposite extremes. Respectful dialogue – even on a topic you consider an absolute truth – is a tension reliever. I will not convince you of even an absolute truth by speaking louder or insulting you. I may not convince you at all. That is the tension I must accept.

Finally, periodic self-evaluation is required. I believe that I am one of those that lives in the middle. But I dare say that many people who hold a radical extreme view would also feel they are in the middle.

Let me end by saying that a viewpoint that says, “absolute truth exists” and “not all truths are absolute” (see bullets above) is a position firmly planted in the middle. At least that’s my opinion. Thoughts?

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