Many years ago, I worked with a man named Ray who was one of those quiet people who is also quietly hilarious – you just had to pay attention. Anyway, Ray was just an average sized guy. When we ordered new uniform shirts or whatever, Ray’s response to the size he needed was always, “extra-medium.” All the other sizes got special treatment; so, why shouldn’t medium?
Oddly enough, I think about Ray often when I’m out ordering coffee. It seems that “medium” has become something of a personna non grata these days, or, I suppose a verbo non grata (verbo non grato? Ms Rogers would be appalled at how little Latin I remember.) Anyway, don’t nobody call nothing medium anymore.
It’s like the concept of medium indicates some kind of indecision, some kind of commitment failure on the part of the person ordering. In fact, this morning, I was out for coffee and the barista asked me twice if I really wanted a medium. If I had ordered a small, she might have thought that I was watching my girlish (guffaw) figure. If I had ordered a large, she might have thought that I really loved coffee. But, I did neither. I ordered a medium. What’s she supposed to do with that?! How is she supposed to know what kind of person I am if I order stuff that middle of the road?!
But, you know what? I am often a middle-of-the-road kind of person. I really do believe in live and let live, for the most part – you know, as long as no one person is harming another. And that attitude gets me more sidelong glances than I think it should.
For instance, I was recently involved in a political discussion (something I generally try to avoid) in which, I pointed out the utter ridiculousness of a comment made by a supporter of a particular candidate – a supporter, mind you, not the candidate themselves. The comment was taking President Obama to task for being at a party during the 9/11 attacks and for staying at the party even after he heard about them. Ummmmm. Clearly, the comment was made in ignorance. There’s just no way to defend that.
However, someone did. He responded like I had attacked his candidate and like if he were to agree with me that the comment was ignorant, he would be being disloyal to his candidate. He seemed to think that he had to support every facet of his candidate and his candidate’s other supporters or he was against them.
And I believe that is dangerous – regardless of which candidate you support.
If we believe in anyone or anything to the point that we are afraid to question it, I believe that is dangerous – even when it comes to religious beliefs. If you can’t question a belief of any kind, then how can you truly defend it? And if you can’t defend it, then do you really understand your “belief” enough to say that you actively believe it or is your “belief’ more of a habit or an heirloom?
To truly know that we believe something, I think that we have to be able to acknowledge its weaknesses or, if it’s a religion and cannot have weaknesses, then its tenets that may be perceived to be weaknesses. For example, I grew up Presbyterian and was once debating the Calvinist theology with a Buddhist friend. She was shocked when my speech was peppered with, “I can see how you would disagree with me; but, I believe because….” I understood my belief system and chose to believe it, not by default, but by active choice.
Still, there were (and are) those who would see my stance as being very middle-of-the-road and uncommitted – very extra-medium, if you will.
Well, in that case, extra-medium fits me just fine.