The |Squeezed| Middle


By its very design, an hourglass has no room for a middle. It thrives on duality and tension; so people such as you and me (most likely) caught trying to hold our ground feel a tightening constriction and forces trying to propel us either up or down – depending on luck, resistance, and which way others think we should go. It takes a heroic amount of energy simply to remain in place, and instead of enjoying our time, we obsess over the one wrong move that will provide the inertia to shoot us out into an unfamiliar and different trajectory. Is this uncertainty keeping us up at night? You bet it is. What’s more, the more acute the corruption, the more of this pinch is felt, destabilizing the middle. (In fact, this upsetting of the middle will come into play big time in tipping the scales in favor of reforms like vote sizing, as we’ll see in the Brutality chapter.)

Living in the middle of the corruption curve means being denied your opportunity to unite with others with whom you share a lot in common - and instead the weight of excessive competition keeps you distracted and pitted against them.

Living in the middle of the corruption curve means being denied your opportunity to unite with others with whom you share a lot in common – and instead the weight of excessive competition keeps you distracted and pitted against them.

Living in the middle of the corruption curve means being denied your opportunity to unite with others with whom you share a lot in common – and instead the weight of excessive competition keeps you distracted and pitted against them.

Although in a healthy pyramid we provide stability, contact, vibrancy and continuity, a corrupt hourglass exploits our important role for its own purposes. Instead of providing common ground, the dislocation between and among the “haves” on top and the “have-nots” on the bottom represents a growing chasm that we find harder and harder to straddle. This is yet one more not very attractive part of a corruption hourglass. Instead of a middle class bridging the upper and lower classes, corruption radically alters the division into two equally unstable categories: risers and sinkers. Instead of being a line of communication bridging the corrupt reign of the elite and the unjust plight of the oppressed masses, we too become anxious and alienated from ourselves. This anxiety moves us away from the moderation, centeredness, and general avoidance of extremes that we seek; and once our role begins to disintegrate, everything around us becomes even more unbalanced and further threatens to collapse.

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