CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Middle
A healthy group is thick in The Middle and skinny at both ends. The ends are skinny because that is where the Orists are, and in a healthy group there are not that many of them.
An Orist is someone who presents you with a binary choice on every issue. Either you (a) fully agree with his viewpoint or (b) you are wrong—and a bad person. There is no (c). On all things, the Orist has already made up his mind. The only question for him is whether you will educate yourself sufficiently that you can see the light, his light.
The Orist is a partisan in all things, no matter how trivial. They are the bad drivers with whom the Minivan Centurion must share the road on his compromised adventure.
An Orist may not be a full-blown splitter dedicated to disuniting and destroying the group (although most end up there eventually), but he is a man who is more concerned with being right than he is in doing right. Every group has Orists at both ends in diametrical and never-ending opposition. If the ends grow too large for The Middle to hold, the group will become disunited and cease to exist.
The Middle of every group is comprised of its Andists, and in a healthy group they will greatly outnumber the Orists. An Andist is a man who sees very little in binary terms. For him, there are a spectrum of possible views on virtually everything. If you disagree with the Andist’s view, that has nothing to do with his opinion of your character. While the Andist may have strong beliefs, they are loosely held because he is persuadable by a good argument well made. An Andist is a good driver who willingly and continually engages in Collision Learning to gain wisdom.
If a group has too few Andists, it will become disunited and become meat for the splitters (both external and internal) because The Middle will not hold.
The Minivan Centurion is an Andist. He adheres to the Augustinian Code: in essentials, unity, in non-essentials, liberty, and in all things, charity. Underpinning this code is the recognition that unity and united are not the same thing. Unity is a state of full agreement—it’s a noun, whereas united is an adjective that describes people who have joined together for a common purpose. A group can remain united without being in unity in all things, as long there is full agreement on the essentials—and that should be a very short list.
The Orist is not an adherent to the Augustinian Code. For him, everything is essential without distinction between unity and united. An Orist believes that a group cannot be united unless there is unity in all things, which means that everyone must agree with him on everything. Perched on their opposing skinny ends of a group, Orists are incapable of uniting with each other or The Middle because their animosity blinds them to any sense of common purpose.
The Orist incorrectly views the Andist’s grant of liberty to disagree on non-essentials as a lack of commitment and misinterprets his practice of charity in all things as a lack of courage. That may be an accurate assessment of a man who (being neither an Orist nor an Andist) holds nothing as essential. But this kind of man is not an Andist, he is a Fat Ted who believes in nothing and sides with the Orists who yell the loudest merely to maintain his personal comfort.
The Minivan Centurion is not that man. He is a staunch defender of his group’s essentials, a powerful advocate in favor of liberty in the non-essentials and a tireless explainer of the difference between the two. Above all, he is a man who practices charity in all things out of strength, not weakness. He recognizes that no group can continue to prosper if it becomes disunited and accepts his role as a warrior of the united who holds and defends The Middle at all costs. When called upon, he will act as the group’s Mister Vice, the purposeful asshole who inflicts mild irritation now to stave off destruction later.
The Splitter and his agents are the Minivan Centurion’s opponent in his battle to hold The Middle. Most splitters cannot be reasoned with because their goal is the destruction of the group through disunity. But a few are not immune to persuasion towards the core. They may be Orists by nature or have devolved there over time under the influence of other Orists. Regardless of how they found their way to either skinny end of the group, they are susceptible to being drawn back into the core by the disciplined Minivan Centurion who has the courage and strength to be Mister Vice for a season.
Discipline is a critical point however, because in his battle to hold The Middle the Minivan Centurion will find his own commitment to Andism being constantly tested, particularly if he is a former Orist himself—and most of us are. Good Driver though a man may be, the temptation to become a bad driver is ever present. It takes strength to resist it.
The Minivan Centurion views Orism is an addiction and Andism is a state of recovery. Just as a man who has been sober for twenty years can fall off the wagon if he spends too much time in a saloon, a dedicated Andist can find himself elevating his need to be right over the interests of the group if he is not careful.
Which is why the Minivan Centurion does not try to fight the battle alone. No man, no matter how brightly his Three Dots burn, has enough courage, strength, and commitment to hold The Middle by himself.
That is why we make our stand together. It is that, or be lost.