Let’s Start from the Middle


The Middle

I do, and have, enjoy long-form conversation. I get the culture and philosophy that doesn’t like to get to the ‘main point’ until a certain time has passed. For me, this is because I think it takes a while to get to the heart of the matter. Rarely, does person A walk into a room and say, “This is my problem”, and persons B, C, D, and E are like, “Ok. Let’s fix it.” Much more often, the problem lies not in what A says, but rather several causes that cumulate into A’s problem.

This is the case in all - or nearly all - of the problems our society faces. We expect, perhaps demand, excellence in one thing. We push expertise apart from the collective whole, and thus have tunnel vision when it comes to The Collective.

I went to a “Liberal Arts” college. At this college, where a student is supposed to have a basic understanding of many things to be “well rounded”, this same student is pushed to choose a “major” in his or her second year of study. This, to me, is the epitome of America. Become well-rounded in three semesters, and then choose your area of expertise.

At this college, being a “General Studies” major was a joke for someone that couldn’t make up their mind. Being the ultimate liberal arts student and developing your own path was considered “wasting” a degree.

But isn’t this us? Isn’t this our problem? We push individuals into one area of work, study, knowledge, expertise, while wanting to function as a whole. You hear the offshoots of this in nearly every conversation, if you listen for it. You’ll be talking about one subject, and someone will say, “Well at my school….” or they will say, “but for my child…” or on down the line. Which leads to this:

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People just get more and more into “their” expertise, and a gap is created.

It happens all over. It can happen in a school: a new way of doing things is introduced


What we miss out on, then, is compromise and getting things accomplished. We miss what people say, and the root of the problem.

In my experience, finding what people really mean comes near the end of a conversation, in summation, after you talked through things. Like, “What I meant was…”