I am not much for politics, never have been, never will be. It's not that I don't follow politics, I do very much so. I grew up with a political Father and I still have interesting discussions with him on most subjects. I always exercise my right to vote and I am thankful to be in a country where my political views are within my right to express. But aside from traditional politics I find political behaviour just as tedious.
I rarely share my political views with other people though, especially in the birth world, where a lot of political behaviour goes on. I find that it puts too much pressure on my relationships with people and that my personal thoughts on things will simply be chalked up to being either on the left or the right. Some people are really good at it and I admire how much energy they are able to put toward advocating for a cause they believe in when they are able to actually effect change of some sort.
I recently read a post by a blog I follow http://navelgazingmidwife.squarespace.com/ called "Hypocrite in The Middle". The author was being labeled a hypocrite by people who are very much to the right and to the left. In fact I would say these two groups she speaks of would be considered a little extreme right and a little extreme left. So where did this leave her? In the middle of course. This is where I find myself as well. Somewhere in the middle of things. That isn't to say that I don't lean a little left on some things or a little right either when it comes to my own life and beliefs or even my "political" views at times, but nonetheless this is where I have landed.
I know many people in the birth world. This is a community where emotions run high and passions run deep. Where women/mothers are simultaneously exalted and undermined. Where the choices she makes about her pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting push her toward some sort of tribe that she must choose in order to belong somewhere she is comfortable and accepted. I often think that I don't have a tribe that fits me, but I know many people on both side of the spectrum and although I don't belong in their particular tribe I value my relationships with them. They give me a perspective on life that I wouldn't otherwise get. Sometimes I rejoice with them and other times they infuriate me, but I feel their input into my need to understand people is vital.
So.... where does being in the middle leave a person? Do the people in other tribes respect you if you don't feel extreme about anything one way or the other. Are you perceived as playing it safe not taking a particular stand on anything? I have seen people of completely different tribes interact, and I have to tell you in my experience rarely is it pleasant. It might start out that way, but when people begin to verbalize how they feel about their choices it usually becomes personal and someone always ends up being judged or feels like they are being judged. Google some of the blogs out there on subjects related to mothering and you see it almost immediately. People berating each other for having different beliefs or making different choices than their own.
Naturally not everyone is going to get along, it is simple human nature. But, it is my firm belief that people that pull toward one extreme or the other claim it is to further their cause when in fact it is to serve themselves. These are the people that dish out the most amount of judgement while they adamantly claim the right to their own choices. They make mean spirited statements without knowing the back story of the person they inflict it upon. They rarely go outside of their own tribe or even attempt to gain understanding of others. You can't further a cause by alienating the very people you claim to want to help.
I am not in the middle because I don't want to piss anyone off, I don't care if I piss anyone off in fact. Extreme viewpoints don't intimidate me they make me more adamant about standing firm to what I personally believe. What I personally believe is my right and that of others to make choices we deem fit for ourselves. Everyone has the right to make good choices and bad choices, to offer good arguments about their beliefs or to simply say it is none of your business what my beliefs are. I can share information with others, but if they choose not to agree that is okay with me. What I can't do is undermine them for their choices, whether or not I agree or disagree because it is far too important that they have that choice in the first place.