Reflecting on the challenges of today, I continue to be reminded of lessons from my childhood. Like many households, there were certain phrases, sayings, that were used as guides for most scenarios. As are so many things from the “olden days” these words still resonate today.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
As a parent or a manager, this has proven to be true time and time again. There are always 2 sides to every story and the truth does lie somewhere in the middle.

Our nation seems to be polarized in exactly the same way and yet the middle today has no voice, no player in the game. Currently, it is clear that the views of the extreme sides are being represented but those of us who fall somewhere in the middle are being totally ignored. Somewhere along the way we got lost. When politics, not facts, started determining policy. When marketing, not experience, makes the difference between winning and losing a race, when style matters more than substance and when the volume of smoke is so much, it hides the fire, those in the quiet majority lose.

No good decisions can be made from a place of fear.
Fear is debilitating and doesn’t have to be based on any facts. Perceived realities cause people to react in bizarre and irrational ways. I am sure I am not alone in my childhood belief that the boogieman lived in my basement. I was sure of it! So sure that every time I turned my back to start up the stairs to leave the basement, a rush of energy, a pump of adrenalin would course through my body and I would run as fast as I could up the stairs to safety before the boogieman could pull me back down. Of course, there was no boogieman but my body responded the same way hundreds of times.

Everywhere you turn, one side or the other tries to evoke fear in the public. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of different, fear something is being taken away, fear of the future, fear of less, fear of more, fear, fear, fear.

The answer to fear has always been knowledge. When you have facts, you don’t have to have fear. There is no need for blind faith – each of us has the power, the responsibility, to find out the facts, the truth, the cause and effect and then make smart decisions.

Two wrongs don’t make a right.
As the younger sister, I was very antagonizing to my brother. It was never a big surprise that he would retaliate and hit me as big brothers often do. I can hear my mom responding firmly to his statement “She started it” with a powerful “Two wrongs don’t make a right”.

Today, there is a lot of finger pointing from all sides. The reality is that in most cases, one can argue that both sides have contributed to the escalations and issues. The idea of being the mature one, being wise, doing the right thing, being a leader, has long past. It has become tit-for-tat, an “I’ll show him/her” show where pride and ego outweigh common decency and sense.

Every Action has an equal and opposite Reaction.
It should be no surprise that our country’s response to the first African American president was to elect a president whose sole goal is to undo all the progress from all presidents in recent history. That is the natural response of the pendulum. Historically, overall progress occurs after the pendulum swings back towards the center but the center has moved a bit. The challenge with such a radical shift is the length of time it takes for the pendulum to be centered again. Will it be 4 years or 8…..

Always start at the source (…when solving problems)
Two years prior to my mom’s diagnosis of Myelofibrosis, she suffered a heart attack caused by extreme anemia. The doctor pumped her up with blood to correct the anemia and sent her on her way. The fatal flaw of this approach was they never determined what caused the anemia to begin with. She was a healthy 60 year old with no history of illness. Why suddenly did she not have enough blood? It took a second heart attack and a different doctor to finally look for the root cause. By then the damage was done and in the end, her weakened heart took her at the young age of 66.

Most of the big challenges we face in the world today are being band aided. Stop the bleeding without addressing the cause. Immigration is not increasing because suddenly the US is a better place to live, it is increasing because the conditions in their homelands have deteriorated so much, desperation has caused them to sacrifice everything – including their lives and the lives of their children. Likewise, gun control won’t stop mass shootings, anti-abortion laws won’t stop abortions, and cutting taxes for the wealthy won’t reduce our budget short fall, and not providing solutions for affordable health care doesn’t mean people won’t need care. The solutions to all of these problems are to address them at their source. What causes people to want to kill masses of people, what guns aren’t really needed in the hands of every day folks, what can be done to prevent unwanted pregnancy and what improved options can be provided when prevention fails. How can we develop our untapped resource of people to spark growth in spending and long term reductions in management costs?

All of these solutions provide an opportunity for a bi-partisan approach to addressing big issues. Compromise, win-win, comprehensive strategies that will make a difference for generations to come and are balanced for all.

Squeaky wheel gets the grease.
We, the silent middle (some estimate that we may even be the majority) are not very loud. We are busy living our lives, raising our children, all the while thinking we are being represented – hopefully we vote, maybe we keep up with the news and the bigger picture of the impact of politics but most haven’t kept up on the fact finding, research and reading required to really understand the differences between the messages, the truth behind the smoke, the deals being made that help the selected and hurt the uninformed. We are still in a state of trust, fate, belief that the American dream exists and those in charge actually are in support of the greater good. But the reality is shifting and those of us in the middle need to find our voice.

It all seems pretty simple really but we have let the passionate ones, the extreme ones, the loud ones steal the show and the powerful ones have taken advantage of the discord and, while no one was paying attention, have undermined the foundation of our country. A great America was built on freedom, on diversity, on openness. We were strengthened by unity, by compassion, and by a quest for equality. And we became a super power after WWII because we proved we were the Republic – One Nation, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL, who fought for the greater good of every human.

While it appears we may have strayed a bit from our core beliefs, it is never too late to right our wrongs and get back on track – to center the pendulum. It starts with a louder voice from the center, educating ourselves on the issues, understand the actions and reactions, rising above politics, to solve problems from their source.

The Sunny Side: In my quest for sources of non-partisan information to help me be better informed and to find a forum in which to use my voice as a citizen, I discovered the League of Women Voters. I encourage everyone to take some time to check out their website and learn more about their more than 7 decades of impact on our politics and the voice they readily provide each of us who choose to use it.