Getting Back to Center

Last week I wrote a piece on the value of the Center, you can read it here. This week I’d like to expand on that missive with a strategy on how to bring systems back to Center. So much ink is often spilled on the negative attributes of moving toward extremes. You can read my writings on The 20th Century’s War here to see the negative consequences of the extremes. I’ve found little thought, though, on how to bring systems back to Center. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

Whether is is a political system, an engine, or any other entity which requires the movement of many parts to work effectively, extremes lead to failure. Working within central parameters is where the most effective overall activity takes place. Yet, often we want a little extra out of the system, we push a little more gas to the engine, we hype up the messaging against a political opponent to score an electoral victory, or we juice the system in some way to gain some short-term advantage. In the long-term, though, this method destroys the system, requiring replacement. When it comes to drag racing cars that’s an expensive proposition. When it comes to the political dynamics within a country, or the relationship between countries, it’s often paid for in lives, property, and future prosperity, all on the human level.

Therefore, how do we take a system which is moving toward the extremes, juiced with short-term explosives, and bring it back to the Center? The Center is not nearly as appealing as the explosive statements about an opposing tribe. The Center is often run by bureaucrats, not exciting television personalities constantly throwing entertainment and distraction our way. The Center is where you want nothing big to happen, rather than the place where every day a dramatic new event could shift the political or geopolitical winds in a massive new way. The Center is where prosperity resides, where the future of our children offers a path to fruition, where we as people need to strive to be.

To move away from the extremes, we need to use the same tools the extremes use to appeal to us. We need to draw attention to the amygdala within the brain. We need to address base emotions. We need to appeal to not only the thinking brain of the cerebral cortex, but the lizard brain as well. How can the Center do that? It’s not exciting!

Yes, it is!

What is more exciting to you? Some new twist and turn of a government shutdown, or making sure your child is not killed in a second Civil War?

What is more exciting to you? Trumped up rhetoric about caravans of refugees fleeing persecution and violence in their homes, or having that persecution and violence infecting your home?

What is more important to you? Fear mongering about someone maybe someday making it hard for you to buy a gun, or knowing your child is safe at school from some person who found easy access to an arsenal of firearms?

When looked at in this way, we can see the Center is where the excitement is. The Center is where the future offers a path forward. The Center is the way.

When politicians parties, or politicians themselves, get on their soap boxes about whatever they believe will excite their supporters, they should be moving those supporters toward the Center. Whenever you listen to a politician speak, you should be moving that person toward the Center. Whenever the media reports on a politician’s diatribe, it should be reported to the Center.

Otherwise, just as the drag racer engine needs to be replaced after a short time throwing nitro into it, the political system will require replacement, which historically has never been a peaceful or painless process. The Center is where humanity is most human, and thus should be where we insist our political and social systems reside.

Let’s all excite others about the power of the Center. It’s the only place in which we may find safety, security, prosperity, and a future for ourselves, our children, our communities, our nation, and our world.

End

You may also listen to this in audio format here:





Riding toward the front, the sound of artillery fire reassures me.

I have not missed the moment.

Will all the guns fire until the end?

2nd Army’s guns will fire until 11 am. I know that much.

Watkins, my aide de campe, who is riding just behind and to my left, pipes in “Still booming, Sir.”

“Yes, seems so. No need for them to be quiet yet.” I reply.

We continue riding, listening to the distant thunder of sporadic fire from large caliber weapons, relatively rare fire from lighter guns, and practically no fire from small-arms, at least which we can hear.

“Sounds like only the bigger boys are active right now.” Watkins blurts out.

He’s been trained to know my thoughts well.

As we ride up toward a shattered building, I see a broken brick wall just high enough to serve as a seat.

“Let’s halt here, and listen for the end.” I offer.

Watkins pulls up along-side me, beginning to dismount just as my left foot hits the ground.

“Despite our attack this morning, the Hun aren’t putting up much of a fight right now.” Watkins offers.

No, they are not using their artillery to stop our advance. I don’t hear their artillery at all, in fact.

“Does not seem so.” I reply.

They are done. We should be driving them home, back across the Rhine, occupying all of Germany. Stopping here is a mistake!

I take a seat on the broken brick of what’s left of the shattered house’s wall. Watkins sits next to, and below me, on the ground at my feet.

Looking at my watch, I am sad to see we are at just a few minutes before 11 am.

“It’s almost time, Sir” Watkins gives words to my thoughts.

“Yes, the end is here.” I reply, looking past him toward an empty horizon.

Distant thunder, the reassuring god of war, echoes across the landscape.

All is right, when in order.

Watkins shifts on his thighs, looking around to ensure this is a private moment.

I continue to stare away, toward the German line.

A small explosion occurs nearby.

This may be the last crack of fire in the greatest war of our age.

Of all ages.

This is the end.

Flicking past the 12, the minute hand on my watch makes it official. It’s now 11 am.

It’s all over.

Everything is over.

Where did it go?

Where will it go?

Where will I go?

Where will men like me go?

A hand appears before my face, startling me.

Jumping up, I’m surprised to see Watkins’ face staring at me. He’s already risen, without me realizing it.

“Back to HQ, Sir?” He asks.

I look back at him.

Where?

He stares at me, intent.

What’s there?

What’s anywhere now?

“Yes, back.” I say, wiping the dust of broken bricks and mortar off my trousers.

“Back” I repeat.




Lieutenant General Robert Bullard, the commander of the U.S. Second Army, was openly disappointed to see The Great War come to an end. Having received rapid promotion during the war, he had found his footing and place in the conflict. On November 11th, 1918, he wrote about how he went “near the front line, to see the last of it, to hear the crack of the last guns in the greatest war of all ages. . . . I stayed until 11 A.M., when all being over, I returned to my headquarters, thoughtful and feeling lost.” Considering he had ordered thousands of men to their deaths that very morning, fully aware the war would be over at 11 am, one’s left to ponder if any of them had the same chance for reflection or sentimentality.