Monday, February 18, 2013

Moving the Movable Middle



Last week in a radio interview, Chely Wright referred to the "movable middle." Let me tell you a couple things about the movable middle. These are my people--I hail from their tribe.


The movable middle:
  • are perfectly aware of their membership in the movable middle
  • understand that "extremism" is really just a strategy to get their attention and scare them
  • know that lots of people are clamoring for their attention, because whoever manages to get their attention also gets a lot of power and a whole lot of cash
  • will tolerate shrillness, but only long enough to politely step away from it
  • live in the need for compromise; it is often how you keep your job in a shrinking and competitive labor market
  • accept that life isn't always fair, but fairness is what you should always shoot for
  • are stretched thin by raising families, caring for aging parents, managing careers, paying bills, and keeping the car running
  • are not naive and know they are not naive, but also know that people on the coasts tend to think they are naive
  • will tolerate showboats, but not showoffs--a subtle but critical difference. Showboats are fine as long as they seem aware that they are showboats, they work hard, and are genuinely talented (Think Dolly Parton, Minnie Pearl...ok, even Liberace.) Showoffs are just self-centered fools who need to get a job.
I get the feeling that some folks in the movable middle are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward Chely Wright, wondering if she is genuinely trying to be honest, or just hopping aboard some supposedly lucrative "gay" train. And although her book, her documentary, the LikeMe Lighthouse in Kansas City, the scholarships out of her own pocket and a ton of other efforts clearly ring of authenticity, nothing replaces that one thing that cannot be controlled--time. That clock will tick and time will tell who is for real and who is not.

As time moves forward, Chely Wright's sincerity will be vindicated. People will see that her vision for America dwarfs any little press bump they suspected she might have been going for. She will stand her ground in that story about putting a gun in her mouth, she will continue her hard work, her values will not change, her winsomeness will remain. And the movable middle, witnessing Chely Wright's immovable convictions, will themselves gladly move.