The Space Between

What a time we’re living in. What a year to be watching events unfold across the world.
I keep thinking of my college political science professors; I imagine them as experiencing a kind of bewildered giddiness at the fodder they’ve been given for classroom discussions. Journalists and late-night television hosts too – they must be reveling in the wealth of material available to them.
Not me, though. Not most of us, I’d guess. For most of us, the year’s political developments have been harder to bear.
I stew on this (awful) presidential campaign and all that’s wrapped up in it and I have to work to remember that most people mean to do good, that they want what’s best for their families and communities, that they have reasons for coming to their particular sets of opinions, assumptions, and values.
Not that I think people always end up doing the good they mean to, or that their opinions are necessarily well-formed, or that they even align with basic moral precepts (because I do think those exist outside of time and place). But it is helpful for me to think of people as unique individuals rather than caricatures of partisan or demographic groups.
As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated by efforts to bring unlike, even opposing groups or ideas together. I just love the puzzling and tugging and chewing and praying of getting a couple of foes to see eye-to-eye. Which makes me either ideally suited or woefully ill-equipped to dabble in political matters.
But that’s what I like to do. I engage in my own brand of kitchen-sink political punditry, wrestling with the issues of the day as I wrestle with the pots and the pans and the unruly two-year-old.
For the past three years I’ve been writing on politics and society, motherhood and family life over at my personal blog, These Walls. I’ll still be there on the more private matters, but now I’ll be voicing most of my political ideas and wonderings here, in this new space.
The Space Between.
The blog’s name comes from a conversation I had with a friend about what we see lacking in most political discussions today – a willingness to admit that each side is at least a little bit right, that most people come to their positions honestly, that there remains a space for real conversation – not just conflict.
I think the name is well illustrated by something I noticed the other day while praying at the grotto outside my parish in Libertytown: Two rocks stood against each other, similarly strong and stubborn-looking, with a slight gap between them. Through the gap, I could see light – sunlight filtered through the woods behind the grotto.
People tend to focus on the discord of politics – on fighting and nastiness and sides standing in opposition to one another. But I’m interested in that gap, that space between. I’m interested in the place where the sides bang up against each other, where we get to see how different (or not) they really are. I’m interested in getting to what we really mean, what we really care about, what really motivates us – and carrying on the conversation from there.
I want to use this blog to explore different political perspectives, to work through issues that divide us (especially those rising to the fore in the 2016 presidential campaign), to consider whether we’re well represented by the categories – political party and otherwise – that the real pundits like to put us in. I have a feeling we’re not. I have a feeling that we’re often better suited for the space between than we are the rocks pressing up against each other.
Come along with me to find out.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.