The Closeted Centrist: When pragmatism is a problem | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 12, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 12, 2018

The Closeted Centrist: When pragmatism is a problem

“The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.”William Shakespeare

The life of a centrist comes with its fair share of tribulations. The question of “Why people have to pick a side and then blindly ignore all other logical reasoning?” is a constant. The mind boggles at the general populace's supposed insistence on always sorting things in boxes of black or white, and then ignoring any hard facts that may influence their categorisation.

We find ourselves going through comment threads, or “flame-wars” as we term them, burdened with the knowledge of the exact type of people and comments that we are likely to come across, yet unable to let go of the simmering hope that there is still some sense left in the world. Every time we fail to locate that voice of reason we hope will exist, that hope dwindles to a lower simmer.

In desperation we find ourselves typing out an entire paragraph of long arduous flawless logic of why every single person there has their heads on backwards. We articulate references and cold reasoning in order to persuade them all that the grey exists, that it's the best solution to all their questions; that if only they listened, if only they saw, if only they understood, things could be a lot simpler. When it comes to dangerously controversial topics, the solutions are varied, and none will fit all. Yet people insist on applying formulae that have worked for others to their situations without context. All we want is a reasonable debate, and yet that, of all things, is what counts as intolerable to these people. We type it all out in a haze of adrenaline and conviction in the sense of our words.

And then, instead of pressing enter, we press backspace. We decide to give up on this specific part of humanity and move on with our lives. We do this because we know that a comment thread is not the place to change people's opinions. These people are not the kinds who are ready or willing to have their opinions changed. The louder they “speak”, the further they cement their will to remain ignorant of anyone's views but their own.

After you find yourself going through this ritual a few times, you realise something else. Maybe you aren't alone. Maybe, there are others, others who do the same, others who have also realised what you've realised. Keyboard justice achieves nothing. As you come to that realisation, the mystery of all those times you failed to locate a reasonable voice in the comments is solved. The people at the two extremes of all spectra are the ones who engage in these debates. The others, the ones whose opinions lie in the convenient space between these two extremes are the ones who know to keep silent in the face of futility. As you think of these other closeted centrists, of you, and I, the hope that there are still reasonable people on this planet, that was simmering dangerously low,  burns that much brighter.


Rabita Saleh is a perfectionist/workaholic. Email feedback to this generally boring person at

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