I was born in Texas and grew up as a military brat in a staunchly conservative right-wing family. I didn’t always agree with every belief my family held but I realized eventually that it wasn’t worth questioning because I never changed anyone’s mind but did raise blood pressure. I moved almost every two years of my life until I left home for art school at 17 and landed in California. I was then surrounded by liberals. Suddenly many of the things I had been raised to believe were questioned and often considered hateful. Almost every friend and professor swung way to the left and I quickly realized how to work the system and write “politically correct” papers and make “politically correct art” to get the A’s I needed for my GPA. Some of what they believed I agreed with but when I didn’t I dared not say anything for fear of being labeled something they considered dreadful, like a “Republican”. I would go home in the summer and listen to a lot of talk about “those” people with their crazy liberal ideas and then go back to college in the fall and listen to rants and even lectures about “those” people and their archaic conservative thinking. Each side seethed with a fire of hate and moral superiority. I stepped from one side to the middle with one foot and then from the other side to the middle with the other foot and tried really hard to not get burned by either.
I eventually met a man with both feet in the middle as well. He came from hippie parents and a Chinese step family. Our wedding attendees featured hippies, police officers, an Air Force Colonel, a few gays, Republicans, Democrats, Chinese, African-Americans, Philipinos, Vietnamese, Jews, Protestants, atheists, Buddhists, and I think at least one Catholic. There were no fights, there was no hate, there was a lot of love and maybe a little alcohol. It was middle-ground and a wonderful place to be.
I continue to walk the line between the two worlds. I converted to Catholicism but this weekend am going to my gay relative’s wedding. I cannot listen to Chic-Fillet lovers or haters because with all the screaming I can hear nothing clearly. What I do hear is God shouting desperately, “love your neighbor!” and that’s what I’m trying to do. The middle is more than a political middle or a place between right or left, it is the place where I can see God in you and you can see God in me. Check it out sometime.