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In New Essay Series, Holthouse Urges Readers to ‘Meet in the Middle’ in Contentious Times

When I began contemplating a theme for a weekly essay that would be enjoyable and, more importantly, productive, it became clear that "Meet Me in the Middle" was where I wanted to land. At a time in our country's history when it seems that its people are more divided than ever before, and a time when we find ourselves in the middle of a very close — and, at this writing, still unresolved — election (at the end of the most calamitous year of our lifetime) meeting in the middle is at the top of my mind.


Although the obvious topic for this piece can be political, there are countless subjects that can be broached where two opposing points of view can be discussed. Sure, there are the obvious heated arguments such as liberalism vs. conservatism, left vs. right, Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter, standing vs. kneeling — and I am not afraid to go there. But there are also places to go such as private school vs. charter school, keto vs. vegetarian, Eastern vs. Western medicine. There is so much to talk about! And is there really a right or a wrong to every discussion? Or is there a way to meet in the middle? This is what I want to explore.

I feel that very few are willing to meet in the middle anymore. People have such strong opinions that they open their mouths but close their ears. There is no more two-sided dialogue. It's all one-sided and, frankly, angry. What would happen if we were to close our mouths and listen more? And again, I'm not just talking about politics or current affairs. I'm talking about what's the best time to eat dinner. Or should my son take Spanish or Chinese. I hope through simple essays that together we can find some middle ground, moving the needle toward acceptance.

When did it become torture to be subjected to another person's viewpoint? I find it heartbreaking to hear that some people refuse to sit at a dinner table with old friends who have opposing political views. It wasn't always that way. I've seen it firsthand and it's incredibly disheartening. I'm all for expressing your point of view in a gentle and calm manner. I truly enjoy digging into the minds of family or friends who have opposing views from my own, for the sake of opening my own mind even further. It's the best way to grow and become the highest version of myself.

Today, as I sit to write my first essay, I would be remiss not to note the ongoing vote counting and disputes of the current election. This election, and the time leading up to it, has been a most disappointing and detrimental scene of American history. Watching the way our country's citizens have divided themselves has been disgraceful. We are one nation, under God; when will we start appreciating that again?

We were set up with checks and balances by our founding fathers to distribute power and authority among the three branches. So although one man has the privilege of holding the office of the executive branch, this is not a dictatorship role. As such, when will our citizens take a deep breath from the anger and bitterness and stop the attacks? Both sides have ideologies with which they align. But I can't help but wonder if it's the angry citizens on both sides that are taking us down the dark hole, not the actual candidates running for president.

My prayers are for an honest quick resolution of the 2020 presidential election and, moving forward, peaceful discourse. We all lean one way or another, on all topics. But can we move away from the fanatical thinking regardless of the debated topic? Can we sit quietly at a dinner table with friends and — rather than ranting about your viewpoint and shoving it down other's throats — just talk it through, opening our minds to what the other side of the discussion may mean?

I'm not here to make an argument on one side or the other. But there is beauty in the middle, and I'd like to be a catalyst for bringing peaceful, civil discourse to all matters that may come up at my own dinner table and yours.

With gratitude always.

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Even in a pandemic, the arts culture of Houston never stops — from movie screenings in the wee hours of the morning, to public art installations that light up the night. Seven photographers capture the everyday wonders of art in the most resilient city in America, over the course of 24 hours on Saturday, Oct. 3.


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