THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
I think Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged, made a very good point about taking a stand on issues. It’s a great lesson for those who seek to withstand pain, in order to become more powerful. She wrote:
The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter’s stomach, is an absolute.
There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube.
Notice that Rand doesn’t speak of hating the person who has the opposite opinion. Much to the contrary, she makes it clear that the person who is wrong still has some respect for the truth because he or she is, at least, willing to stand for something. What she makes clear is that it is evil to yield one’s own belief and seek “middle ground” to simply appease the other person or to avoid the pain that might well come from standing up for what you believe.
Here are some things happening in the world that you will need to decide right or wrong about, not suggest there is some middle ground:
Should transgender male athletes (having male DNA) who assert they are female be allowed to compete against female athletes in female sports leagues?
Do Americans have a fundamental right to bear arms?
Do human beings, regardless of nationality, have a fundamental right to free speech?
Should drugs be legal or not? Which drugs?
Should our government be empowered to immunize all adult citizens against COVID or substantially curtail the freedoms of non-immunized Americans?
There was a time when adversaries in battles of ideas and ideals fought with everything they had to stand firm for what they believed, without hating those who believed, otherwise. That’s what we need to get back to—not some amorphous, evil, meaningless middle ground.
Dr. Keith Ablow