Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
I love this quote from Rumi. It has taken on even more meaning for me as I’ve gotten older. After a lifetime of fighting for causes I believed in, and of taking one side or another in a debate of the issues, I have come to realize that the times when I have been the most productive, and the most peaceful, have been when I have found a middle ground to stand on. In this yes/no, either/or, right/wrong culture that most of us have been brought up in, there is another way: Both/And. There are people, and ideas, and beliefs that can co-exist side by side without having to choose between one or the other. When conflict does arise, we can find that place in the field of common ground and utter what seems to have become a dirty word in this day and age of name-calling and finger-pointing: compromise. Let me tell you a story:
Two men meet while sitting on a park bench on a lovely autumn day. One man is a Christian, the other is Muslim. One man is a Republican, the other a Democrat. One man is white, the other is a man of color. And yet, as the time passes they find things to enjoy together: the children playing with shouts of joy, the beauty of the day, a daredevil squirrel leaping from tree to tree, the warmth of the sun on aging bones. Then one of the men mentions how the price of a cup of coffee in this neighborhood has sky rocketed. The discussion then moves to things like the price of coffee beans, climate change and its effects on crops, tariffs on imports, and so on. Yet the men do not get into a yelling match. Maybe, they agree, the answer is to be found in what is the fairest for all concerned. Or, maybe, it just depends on where you live and how much you are willing to pay for a cup of coffee before you decide to make your own at home and save your money. They chuckle in agreement over how they have just solved the problem of an overpriced cup of coffee. As they get up to leave, they shake hands and wish each other a good day. Perhaps they will see each other here again. Each goes off in a different direction with a smile on their face.
I know that this sounds like a simplistic response to the turmoil and terrible separation that is going on all around us right now, but more often than not the answer to life’s problems are to be found in the simple things like allowing that the other side just may have a point worth discussing, and that, for the good of all, there is always a middle ground to stand on.
This week our writing assignment on the Home Page is going to challenge us to find our middle ground, our field beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing. I will not tell you to have fun with this one, but I will challenge you to find the very best that is within you and within all of us. In the meantime, just keep writing.
Peace and blessings.