28 February 2008

Don't Fence Me In

***Posted 16 Oct 2010***

I disagree that sitting on the fence is always a bad thing, depending on what you mean by sitting on the fence. I hear so many people decrying the vice of fence-sitting, especially in a culture which preaches that hesitation amounts to laziness, slothfulness, and "serving two masters". And then there's the statement of President Bush that "you are either with us, or you are with the terrorists". I understand that what he (hopefully) meant was that if you are not going to act to help us stop what is being done, then you are allowing their proliferation and success, so if you're not going to help us, you're helping them by your inactivity. But to insist that someone is decidedly on the side of the terrorists if they don't agree with how the situation is being handled and refuse to take part is, in my opinion, wrong.

If sitting on the fence means hesitating to act due to fear, yeah, that's probably not good for your progress or self-concept. If sitting on the fence means waiting for a "perfect" scenario before getting anything done, then yeah, you're probably never going to get anything done. If sitting on the fence is pretending a conflict doesn't exist and ignoring it as long as possible, also not good. But I just don't understand the concept of making a decision for the sake of making a decision. There are always going to be things in life that are conflicting or pull you in different directions, and sometimes, I think it's good to actually focus on other things in life, examine your options, come back to the perplexing issue enough to remember it's there but then move on with other things if you're not ready to make a call...

Sometimes, maybe the only thing you can do with any integrity is stand still on a certain issue until you gain a bit more clarity. Sometimes, you gain the clarity by simple acting and making a mistake. Other times, to act one way or another would be to betray personal principles, and until you find a way to act without compromising those principles, or until you realize some of those principles aren't as important as you thought, it may be totally appropriate to refrain from action. I think that exact struggle, wrestling with seeming contradictions or conflicting options and seeking greater fulfillment of the most principles is what leads to finding options previously ignored. By refusing to engage in the current, supposed dichotomous options, new ways are found, and reconciliation begins.

Certainly our culture frowns upon it, but our culture's version of decisiveness often seems asinine to me. But then, I'm supposedly on the fence, so what do I know about it?

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