With the United Kingdom crumbling and the EU reeling, it’s a comfort to know that David Brooks can bring keenness to the opacity of our political discourse. Here’s a precious thing he wrote called “At the Edge of Inside” published yesterday:
In any organization there are some people who serve at the core. These insiders are in the rooms when the decisions are made. Hillary Clinton, for example, is now at the core of the Democratic Party.
Then there are outsiders. They throw missiles from beyond the walls. They are untouched by internal loyalties and try to take over from without. Donald Trump is a Republican outsider.
But there’s also a third position in any organization: those who are at the edge of the inside. These people are within the organization, but they’re not subsumed by the group think. They work at the boundaries, bridges and entranceways. Senator Lindsey Graham, for example, is sometimes on the edge of the inside of the G.O.P.
Brooks got the ideas from a “pamphlet” written by “a Franciscan priest who lives in Albuquerque.” On the Edge of the Inside” should wow’em at David’s next TED Talks. But he should be careful about mentioning bridges and entranceways. Republicans don’t like to build those. Maybe that’s why Lindsey Graham is on the edge of the inside.
A person at the edge of inside can be the strongest reformer. This person has the loyalty of a faithful insider, but the judgment of the critical outsider. Martin Luther King Jr. had an authentic inner experience of what it meant to be American. This love allowed him to critique America from the values he learned from America. He could be utterly relentless in bringing America back closer to herself precisely because his devotion to American ideals was so fervent.
MLK had an authentic inner experience of what it meant to be black in America, which in late fifties Montgomery and mid sixties Selma meant blacks were treated as if they didn’t belong in America.
The person on the edge of inside is involved in constant change. The true insiders are so deep inside they often get confused by trivia and locked into the status quo. The outsider is throwing bombs and dreaming of far-off transformational revolution. But the person at the doorway is seeing constant comings and goings. As Rohr says, she is involved in a process of perpetual transformation, not a belonging system. She is more interested in being a searcher than a settler.
This sure is a convoluted way of saying, “People changed their seats in the elementary school cafeteria if they saw me coming.”
When people are afraid or defensive, they have no tolerance for the person at the edge of inside. They want purity, rigid loyalty and lock step unity. But now more than ever we need people who have the courage to live on the edge of inside, who love their parties and organizations so much that they can critique them as a brother, operate on them from the inside as a friend and dauntlessly insist that they live up to their truest selves.
Britishes should could have used somebody telling them to live up to their truest selves!