You Represent the Middle, and You’re Not Alone

Extremes sell. Conflict sells. Division creates interest.

When I studied English Literature at the University of Oklahoma, we learned a lot about the movements of a story. The story arc creates a good story, by not neglecting some essential elements:

  • Rising and Falling – The story isn’t stagnant, especially as it relates to the central characters. They start off high and go low, or vice versa. They can have several ups and downs, but it isn’t flat. Something needs to happen. What?
  • A Crisis/Climax – The crisis forces the character to make a critical choice, leading to the height of the action, when things can go either way, the climax. We need to care about the characters, otherwise our investment will be minimal.

Late last year, I started writing my first novel. It caused me to remember some of these important lessons. I wanted to communicate truth through fiction, but it needed to be interesting. The story needs to have a plot with the elements listed above. When my novel is released next week, I hope my readers will find that I was successful enough to make the story enjoyable.

Sometimes it can feel like we are living inside of a story. Every day, a new plot twist is pushed in front of us. Things like:

  • “The bad guy/gal did this!”
  • “The crazy celebrity did this!”
  • “These people are trying to do this to you, but we’re trying to stop them!”
  • “We were just barely able to prevent those evil people on the other side from ‘latest evil plot’!”
  • “These people are ‘evil label of choice’ and there are many of them!”

All of these things, make it seem is if we are living in a reality dominated by these extreme characters. Because the extremes are loudest, and most vocal, they get the most attention. This is very useful if you want to raise the ratings of your media station, get more visitors for your website, or need a strawman to attack to promote your policies.

Here’s the thing. I don’t personally know any of the people they are usually talking about. No matter if it is the right-wing or the left-wing perspective, when they start talking to the real crazies out there, the people who are actually a threat to society and their communities, those aren’t us. Chances are they aren’t anybody you know.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have people you know who repost that stuff, even the things you completely disagree with. But those people you actually know, even the ones who post the most radical things you disagree with online, are basically normal people who aren’t a threat to anyone. In a real video game, we would all be NPCs.

That’s because the vast majority of us are a part of the middle. We don’t want to march over to our neighbor’s house and start telling them what they can or cannot do or take away anything from them. What we don’t want is for someone to do that to us. We fear the radical fringe that has been portrayed to us. Those crazy people are the ones that someone wants us to keep in mind, not that neighbor who, just like you, just wants to be left alone.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there who think they have a right to dictate to you how to live. There are, but there aren’t very many of them and most of them live in Washington, arguing with each other. But we vastly out number them, and it isn’t even close. They have no chance against the numbers of reasonable, rational people that make up the vast majority of those we ever interact with.

The last 2 years have been hard on what we might call ‘neighborliness’. Chances are you did disagree with several of your neighbors over one of the issues that were pushed in your face 24/7. You may have said things you wouldn’t normally say. You might have burned some bridges. The wounds might still need time to heal.

But I’m writing for you to remember that those people are not your enemy. The people you go to work, school and church with are not your enemies. Someone wanted you to look at them that way, because if you do, we are all easier to control.

The reason they do that is because, as I said above, there are multitudes of us and only a few of them.

Stop playing their game. The people in your community probably don’t hate you, or anyone. Not really. Remember what real community is all about:

Jesus said, “The second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than these.” Mark 12:31

Now go and do likewise, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be okay.

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