Standing in the Middle: Navigating the Woke Culture Wars with Courage and Grace

I’d like to take a minute with the whole “woke” thing. Like so many words that have been crammed into meanings to become wedges and weapons, woke acts as a trigger for many.

I saw a guy at the airport wearing an anti-woke t-shirt. His presence felt heavy and angry — this could have been a projection on my part and I don’t think that was entirely the case.

My heart hurt for him as it does for so many men of my generation.

The ground is shifting beneath our feet profoundly. Those of us on board with the shakeup of outdated-but-familiar ways of being have still experienced a lot of discomfort as we’re required to take ownership of how imbalances have benefited us and propped up a sense of self that is now required to change as wrong things are righted.

All systems eventually seek balance. It is inevitable that old, old imbalances must be allowed to find their proper position. And structures built on lopsided foundations will adapt or topple as the scales are brought to balance. These are natural laws.

Imbalances have existed for so long that it’s common to see them as “just reality.”

Some of the things to which I’m referring:

  • Male/Female inequality
  • Racial inequality and discrimination
  • Capitalistic abuses that keep being excused as “that’s just business”

Many resist the rebalancing and see it as an attack on their familiar way of living. And beyond that, it’s perceived as an attack on not just how they are, but WHO they are. Consciously or unconsciously, many people feel that they are being called bad or wrong, which brings up predictable resistance.

And on the far other side of the equation, many are waving the banner of wokeness as a play to stay at the front of the pack as things change. So it is a continued dominance and rightness strategy for a lot of people who don’t carry the true spirit of awakening in their hearts.

I’m not sharing this as a scold of either position. They are common human reactions to change. And these attempts will not control the waves of change anymore than a boy with a bucket can force the tides to stop ebbing and flowing.

I’m sharing these thoughts as encouragement for those of us who won’t be trapped by the gravitational pull of either extreme but are committed to grow and heal and evolve.

The middle path feels messy and uncertain a lot of the time. It requires genuine opening, humility, inquiry, forgiveness, and resilience.

And I am convinced that, although our voices might not be easily heard in the insanity, this middle path and those who walk it have the power to heal our world.

Yes, we do need a world that values empathy, equality, kindness, openheartedness, vulnerability, curiosity, and healing.

No, we will not gain that world by bashing those who resist it over the head with platitudes and concepts.

We can be the agents of this kind of change only if we are willing to hold the tension of the middle ground and use it as creative fuel to bring more of what we know to be true into reality.

As Paulo Coelho once wrote, “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”

We are given the task of awakening to who we really are and developing the courage to live in alignment with that.

And ”that” is a life of grace, creative solutions to apparently impossible problems, and generosity with every other human who is living through these times of destabilization with us.

It’s no platitude that we are all in this together. It is the empirical reality that can’t be ignored anymore.

If you’re still reading, I suspect that you also long for the way the world might be — the way it is possible to be, the way it is meant to be.

Find each other. Encourage each other. Hold each other gently through the process of healing and growth.

Laugh, too. What we seek to bring into being is not grim but alive, juicy, free, and healthy.

In this way, we can be the change we wish to see.

And remember, as you become a vital, healthy, creative cell in this collective body, you naturally spread health and healing to those around you. What happens within your own arms’ reach *is* potent and affects the whole.

In other words, you matter. Your openhearted commitment to healing is medicine and makes a difference.

Thank you for being here.

Your fellow traveler,


Jacob Nordby

Jacob Nordby

Jacob Nordby is the author of The Divine Arsonist: A Tale of Awakening, and Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives. His third book, The Creative Cure, was released by Hierophant Publishing in 2021 with a foreword by Julia Cameron. He is the co-founder of The Institute for Creative Living and also a highly introverted person who can often be found working in the quietest corner of some Boise coffee shop.

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  1. Beautifully spoken Jacob, thank you. I just heard the podcast that you did with Steven Farmer and was intrigued to check you out and read this post first. I find I am someone who has a foot in both worlds, the ordinary reality of physical presence on this beautiful Earth and the world of Spirit. I also straddle the middle on the Earth and try not to take positions but instead listen to my heart and knowing, too many to learn. I do remember that we are more similar than different and that is humbling! This time we are in now is challenging but I think being on Earth has always been a challenge especially since we are here to learn, not just do the static life. It is very exciting time to be alive and awakening now, it is alway good to connect with fellow travelers, even if online! Keep up your beautiful work and life.

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