JIM CREES: It’s time to head to the middle

OK. So ...the election is over, (thank goodness.)

Sadly, a buddy sent me an Internet news service story containing the results of the first polling survey evaluating who folks think will be the shoo-in candidates for the 2016 presidential election cycle.

Really!!??!! One day after the election!!

Please. Let us breath without the stench of politics filling the ol’ nostrils!

Anyway, just as a matter of information, the survey “revealed” that those polled believe the next presidential race will be between the Democrat Hillary Clinton, and the Republican Chris Christie.

Good luck to both of ‘em.

In the meantime, the 2012 election cycle is over and we have a president for the next four years.

As some folks rend their clothing, cover themselves in ashes, and head for the dungheap to scrape their sores with potsherds, others are out dancing in the streets.

I’d like to suggest something here using a story I’ve told before, and even used in previous columns. I believe it warrants another go-around.

It really is a good lesson to all of us.

An old tale is told in Eastern Europe about two communities located on opposite sides of a fast moving river with strong currents and hidden dangers.

On one side of the river was a small village made up of weavers and merchants. Located on the opposite bank was a community of farmers raising vegetables and livestock.

The merchants and manufacturers on one side of the river needed the food and farm materials grown by the farmers on the other side.

The farmers needed the dry goods and clothing manufactured and sold in shops across the river. The problem was it was treacherous and downright dangerous making the trip from one side of the river to the other.

Fighting the exhausting current and negotiating the dangerous and often hidden obstacles was life-threatening.

Anyone trying to make the trip from one side to the other could well lose everything including their lives.

But in midstream, there was a small island.

This island, this place in the middle, offered those making the trip from one side of the river to the other a chance to rest, gather energy, and continue on to the other side.

This middle ground made a dangerous trip much less so.

People knew that when taking their farm goods to market, or when hauling a load of manufactured materials to stock shops on the other side, they needed to reach the middle ground.

They even knew the middle ground could be a good place to discuss future business, or pass on information that would benefit both communities. They knew that without the middle ground, one community would be cut off from the other.

Without the island located safely midstream, there would be no working relationship between the two groups of people. Everyone would be left doing their own thing on opposite sides of the river.

Remembering this story, I wonder if what may be missing in this country and, in fact, in our local communities is the realization that there is always a safe middle ground from which people, programs, projects, and policies might get a easier start and might come to a more productive end.

As politicians in Washington continue working on the important policies and programs that affect all of our lives, there are those who hope and lean toward a more liberal point of view, and those who promulgate more conservative policies.

Sometimes, it’s hard for one side to understand or appreciate the view of the other.

Still, it’s time to find the middle ground.

Differing groups throughout these United States have been contentiously debating the need for any number of initiatives and programs - both here and abroad. There are huge issues facing the nation dealing with economics, healthcare, foreign policy, and so much more.

There’s been a lot of debate, but too little discussion.

Folks in Washington, Lansing, and in our local communities need to catch their breath.

It’s time to find the middle ground.

Too often, people supporting this stand or that policy get caught up in the swirl of the stream, or find themselves jammed against obstacles that will always be there - just below the surface.

It’s tiring fighting a raging current all the time. It makes even the simplest trip exhausting.

The middle ground offers a chance to stop for a second, breath, listen without talking, consider the other side, and refocus on the greater good.

Maybe it’s time for all sort of conflicted parties and people in this around the state and nation to head for the middle ground.

Doing so doesn’t demand giving up points of principles, it just means there’s a good place to breath easier, collect thoughts, and be better equipped to find a way to reach the other side.

Not a bad idea really.