Finding the middle ground with civility
German writer Jean Paul once offered this advice: “The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.”
I would hope that for all of us that would be true. I would hope that as we grow older, we also grow a bit wiser from the experiences of life.
Certainly I believe that is true of two peers of mine, both of whom are columnists here at the newspaper. In the past month they have penned columns that I believe strike at the very core and root of the dilemma we find in the world today — something Oprah Winfrey described this week as the “core moral center.”
The first is Doug Pugh, who this week wrote a thought provoking essay on finding “middle ground.” In my estimation Pugh is a storyteller extraordinaire, and can spin a good yarn in the same vein as Mark Twain once did.
Pugh wrote in that tounge-in-cheek style of “middle ground” between Alpena and Bolton as being at Norway Resort. Anyone who read the column quickly understood Pugh’s point was something much different, something much deeper.
“I’ve been on a search for middle ground,” Pugh wrote, “but middle ground has been hard to find — more and more things are grounded elsewhere.”
In his search he said too many people adopted polarizing positions that resulted in “our society is displaying too much nastiness, exhibiting unrestrained hatefulness, and producing too much garbage.”
I could smell the stink as I read on.
At the Resort, however, he found tranquility and acceptance, where folks from all cities in the region could come and where they never would be admonished to go back to where they came from.
It was a column that if you missed, you must go back and read.
The second columnist is Greg Awtry, a former newspaper publisher from Nebraska who now calls Hubbard Lake home. In a column he wrote July 19 about President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to Americans to race into space and put a man on the moon, he posed the question about whether that same challenge could be accomplished today. And, when one stops to ponder the answer, it leaves most discouraged.
“Today — in our hateful political climate of racial tweets and members of Congress spending their valuable time voting on resolutions calling the president a racist — it is hard to imagine America being capable of rallying around any single idea,” Awtry wrote. “My, how far have we fallen in the last 50 years.”
As Awtry pointed out, Kennedy’s plan had more than its share of distractors. Yet despite that, he rallied Americans behind him as he inspired them to to join together in a common cause.
Awtry wrote that his hope is that could be the case today as well.
“I want our next leaders to not be blinded by partisanship, not look at us as people of color, or religious beliefs, not judge us on gender or sexual preference, but to look at us as Americans one and all. I want them to inspire us, to unite us, and give us the vision of what we can achieve if we choose to act as one.”
He concluded the column by asking the question “is that too much to ask for?”
The answer obviously is certainly not.
As Pugh wrote, just seek the middle ground as a beginning point for that quest.
We need more thinkers like Pugh and Awtry running this country.
We need a civil tone and a healthy appreciation for others to return to politics.
We need to set aside our differences and for once, join together for a common goal.
Let’s strive today to stand united on that middle ground called respect.
Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.