Last weekend, I went hiking with a couple of great friends in Big Bend National Park. During the time away from TV, internet, office work, family life, and even cell phones, conversations tend to open up. Tommy and I have been friends for over 16 years and our conversations rarely turn to politics, but on the 8-hour car ride home, we went there.
During the course of conversation, though, we discussed how polarized things have become. But when we examined it, it goes way beyond politics. Of course in the political arena everyone seems to be either Republican or Democrat (conservative or liberal). But in other circles, there seems to be equally tremendous dichotomies everywhere. In the church people tend to be either evangelical or mainline. Or in biblical interpretation they tend to be Fundamentalists or Moderates (conservatives or liberals). Even in the area of the environment and the enjoying the great outdoors people either tend to be hikers or hunters. Hikers tend to drive hybrids and AWD crossovers in stark contrast to the 4x4 equipped gas-guzzling hunters (I recently read an amazing article about this). People either support PETA or the NRA. They are either pro-life or pro-abortion. They are either "pro-gay" or "no-gay". Even in our church worship services we are either contemporary or traditional. Some have made attempts at blended worship services, but I've hardly seen it done well.
In all of these walks of life, the bridge (if one exists) between the two poles is one that is never to be crossed. I'll admit, I'm politically and biblically more conservative. But that doesn't mean that I don't agree with certain policies that have been labeled as liberal, which are often more humanitarian. I have spent most of my life hunting as a hobby and pastime. But I'm learning to experience the outdoors without a weapon and it's very enjoyable. I love the modern sound and intimate lyrics of contemporary worship, but I also love the deep theology of the hymns.
But what I've found is that most of us are somewhere in the middle. I guess the thing that frustrates me is that those of us in the middle have no voice. It seems everyone who has a voice has been given that voice because they subscribe to an extreme form of their belief and these polarized right vs. left voices are the only choices we have been given. Are we just a society that celebrates the extreme and doesn't want to hear the things that some might consider normal?
Many things I post on this blog have been shared because I have felt I have discovered an answer for myself. But not this post. I'm simply throwing this out for discussion. Why has our society become so polarized? How do we move beyond that where those of us non-radicals who are stuck somewhere in the middle have a voice again?