“Freedom would not be to choose between black and white but to abjure such prescribed choices”, this quote by Theodore Adorno, although referring to historical political and social extremism which stems from the concept that “either you’re with me or against me”, is very relevant in our modern day. We are constantly being presented with moral and social choices, pro-life or pro-choice, war or peace, yes or no to refugees, legalizing marijuana or prostitution or not, and our thoughts, ideas and identity now belong to one of these two spheres which are moving further apart from each other. I’d like to present to you the middle ground and the power that it has in starting a conversation and advance our understanding of each other and the world we live in.
Compromise is seen as a dirty word, it’s definition itself implies a change or adjustment of claims in order to reach an agreement. We have very strong opinions about a lot of things, more so now than ever before, with the explosion of social media but we have to understand the difference between a fact and an opinion. To move one step further, we need to be willing to mold our opinions by understanding the world we live in.
So how do we differentiate between a fact, which has a very strict right and wrong, and an opinion, which is open to discussion. I use a word that I love, evidence, which in most cases might refer to scientific evidence and facts but can be extended into the social realm as well, let me elaborate. Statistics, a very powerful tool (if done correctly) can help steer a decision to the left or right by removing the subjectivity, although not completely, from an argument. Any other argument or controversy that does not have scientific evidence or statistics in it’s midst is open for discussion or rather SHOULD be discussed openly.
Let me use an example to explain this point of view, abortion. A disclaimer though, before I begin, I do not see this example to be the only OR the best example of where we can take the middle ground. It is just one I feel I can use to best explain my point of view. So, abortion has a clear divide between the for or against, or as we term them, pro-life and pro-choice. In my opinion, both those terms or points of view are fallacies, failures in reasoning. To put it simply, pro-life actually implies pro-fetus life and does not talk about the life of the mother, which means that pro-life is not all encompassing and that is against the term pro-life itself. On the other hand, pro-choice, is talking about the choice of the mother and at the same time does not talk about the choice of the fetus or whether him/her has a choice to begin with, and therefore has the same problem of all inclusiveness.
So how do we start a discussion down the middle and see where it takes us. Well, starting with an open and impartial mind will definitely help. Scientific evidence and statistics will help answer a few questions, but in the case of abortion, cannot be used conclusively to choose a side. Science can tell us about the stages of the fetus and when we start to notice neurological activity, it can also determine the condition of both the fetus and the mother. Statistics can give us an indication about the percentage of various types of mothers that might get an abortion, single mothers, teen mothers, rape victims, fetus with fatal conditions and so on. Now all this information can aid in the discussion, but as i said before, cannot be used conclusively.
Now the discussion has to begin, guidelines have to be determined, and not black or white rules. Guidelines that will help the people involved to make decisions, mothers, medical community, court of law. Guidelines that could include the age of the fetus, condition of the mother, circumstances of conception etc. A simple yes or no, guilty or not guilty WILL NOT work in a discussion like this. We have to understand that we are all on the same side, a side of life and of choices.
Again, I reiterate, I have used the discussion of abortion only as an example to demonstrate my point of view, the point of view of a healthy discussion, of compromises, of knowing the difference between facts and opinions. When we limit ourselves to either or or we do ourselves, and society in general, a huge disservice. We have the ability to think, reason and collaborate, we should use that ability to solve the issues we face. We must understand that the problems we are trying to solve affect all of us equally, it’s just that we’re divided in the method we want to use to solve them. If we look hard enough there is a common goal, a safer society with a higher collective purpose, and the only way we can reach that goal is if we collaborate.
1. Always view the world from someone else’s perspective
2. Always question your thoughts, ideas and opinions
3. Discuss, argue and collaborate to improve not only others but your understanding of the world
4. Use social media constructively, as a medium to discuss and not promote only your ideas
Remember, the middle ground should be the first and not the last resort.