The Illusion of Neutrality: Eventually You Have to Choose a Side

“I’m not right-wing or left-wing, I consider myself more of a centrist.” so said one of my acquaintances during a recent conversation. That’s not the first time I’ve heard such a statement or similar expression. The truth is that it is far more common for people to say they are a moderate this or that than it is for them to pick a definitive side. We’ve seen this play out for decades as people publicly declare themselves to be “undecided”, “centrist” or “neutral”.

It’s not all that big of a surprise that when pressed to take sides most folks will squirm around and try to stay in the middle or remain neutral. During the last several years I’ve penned articles that discussed the “reasonableness disease”. People want to be seen as reasonable by their peers so they deliberately avoid choosing sides or they will temper their beliefs with blanket statements such as “well, I can see both sides” or “I’m not saying you’re right or wrong” and the famous “…not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Historical Precedent

It’s easy to fall into the moderate or centrist trap. No one wants to be disliked, not even by strangers. People by their very nature crave acceptance and seek to be well-liked. When you pick a side you automatically set yourself up for scorn or ridicule from the opposing faction.

Win Guns, Gear, and Training

Consider the birth of our nation. In 1775, statistically only about one-third of the American population favored complete separation from Mother England. A full third were Tories that vehemently opposed independence. The last group consisted of centrists who simply held out to see what would happen and then go with the flow. Even after April 19th 1775, with the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, there were still members of the Continental Congress who wished to make peace with King George and come to some kind of power-sharing agreement.

An Artificial Life

When it comes to important matters, such as the future of one’s nation, I would never suggest that a thinking man rush to take sides without careful consideration. Mob rule and emotionally-driven decisions more often than not end very badly. Decisions about where to place one’s allegiance should be based upon knowledge of the past and present, experience, and the moral principles upon which a person was raised.

Unfortunately, far too many citizens in the 21st Century have precious little knowledge or education about the past or history. Many of these same people live an artificial life void of principle where their only stimuli comes electronically or from some synthesized opiate. Consequences for poor or bad decisions have been nullified by the nanny state.

Up until this recent juncture in history, if a man made bad choices he was left to suffer the results of those choices. The drunkard or drug-addict was not rewarded with subsidized housing, food, and medical care. The thief was not allowed to apologize and then be released back into society with little more than a scolding. The rapist and murderer were not allowed to excuse their heinous acts with pretexts about a tough childhood, emotional distress or mental confusion.

When a nation’s citizens feel no real attachment or responsibility for their decisions and choices it is no wonder that they feel no true allegiance. Or, more properly, they only feel allegiance to the entity that continues to offer them shelter from responsibility.

The Times have Changed

When your family’s future is secure and there is no demonstrable threat to your community or nation, choosing sides isn’t all that big of a deal. When the opposing parties have the same end goal but differing opinions about how to reach that goal, again declaring allegiance doesn’t seem all that pressing.

In my youth I recall my parents and grandparents debating over supporting Republican or Democrat candidates. However, there was never really a doubt in their minds that both parties, regardless of their outward differences, supported the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which this nation was founded.

Today the situation has changed. Mothers and fathers have serious doubts about their family’s future and security. Our nation is being threatened from without and within. There are those within the government bureaucracy who see the U.S. Constitution not as a framework and foundation but as an impediment to their desires. To these people, the rule of law is something that needs to be gotten around or ignored. At one time the rights and security of the individual were paramount. Now the selfish and short-sighted desires of the collective take precedence over the outnumbered individual.

The lazy, self-centered, and devious seek to align themselves with a bureaucracy ever bent on greater and more expansive power. Like the elementary school child who seeks popularity and acceptance at all costs, citizens seek to align themselves with whomever promises the most cookies.

Free cookies and popularity don’t build and secure nations. Only hard work, sacrifice, and risk-taking can build and secure a community and a nation. The men who founded the greatest nation this world has ever known risked everything, up to and including their lives, to secure individual liberty for future generations.

Time to Choose

While the centrist or moderate stance is genuinely seductive it is only a viable option during times of genuine peace and security. That description in no way applies to our current situation. Refusing to believe in the devil doesn’t negate his existence. Evil exists whether you decide to face it or not. When the wolf has your leg in his mouth you cannot save yourself by willing him away. Distracting yourself with electronic stimuli or naïve disbelief changes nothing.

Throughout history the reasonable moderate has met the wolf with a look of genuine surprise and disbelief. The wolf sees the moderate man simply as food and has no regard for his neutrality. When faced with the cold reality of their impending doom moderate men flee toward those they once scorned as “closed-minded” or “extremist”.

Why should either side receive the neutral man? The moderate is like tepid water, neither hot nor cold. When a person drinks tepid water he spits it out. As the time for taking sides arrives, the neutral or moderate will be trusted by neither. The centrist will both be enslaved and subjugated or they will be despised and forever viewed as suspect.

A man should be thoughtful and make his decisions with an understanding of history, experience, and his own moral principles. Refusing to make a choice or attempting to remain neutral is a childish illusion. Adults have to make hard choices and, like it or not, you will eventually have to pick a side. Make your choice wisely for the time for neutrality has come to an end.

The following two tabs change content below.

Paul Markel

Founder & President at Student of the Gun
Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

Latest posts by Paul Markel (see all)


  1. Bill

    Great article. I used to be the neutral man until I saw our country being destroyed from within. Many complain about the condition of our country but few do anything about it. I now am active politically and prepare for the pending upheaval that surely will come.

  2. Steve

    Perfectly said Paul. I was neutral for a long time and fortunately recent events have opened my eyes and mind. Needless to say that I have picked a side and I will make sure both of my boys are man enough to pick theirs. Fear and doubt no longer get a vote.

  3. MarkT

    Great article Paul. Our nation at this time is at a crossroad. Whether we recover from this malaise or eventually fall as a nation depends largely on the next few years. If folks haven’t woken up yet to the delusions of the progressive left then our better days are behind us. The one thing that gives me hope and peace is that God is always in charge and maybe just maybe He will intervene on our behalf if we turn to Him as a nation. If not we are toast.

  4. Mark

    The Church in America has become that of Laodicea described in Revelation chapter 3. Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have now chosen to follow man over God in funding abortion via Obamacare in order to keep their gold-plated health coverage and materialistic lifestyles. Ironically, on the week of the 70th anniversary of the allied invasion to liberate Europe, American Christians have chosen the path of the Christians in Nazi Germany. May Dietrich Bonhoeffers arise before it is too late…

  5. Stan Sikorski

    Since I’m a White Nationalist, I don’t have to pick sides as I hate them both for being ineffectual puppets. Even if a third or forth party were allowed to exist and prosper in the system they would still have to answer to the zionist jew world order as the republicrats and demopublicans do now.

    But not White Nationalism. We do away with all that. We do away with the source of the problems. –

  6. Joe Hulsey

    Agree wholeheartedly. Parents need to quite being friends and be parents. Parental neutrality is not parenting. This is part of what has degredated ours society. Kids growing up with nuetral parents niether wanting to be disciplinarian just saying “you handle it, how you want”. Leaving the child to shrug their shoulders and thinking “huh no one cares if I do (x)” People need to choose between freedom and slavery, still today. Government reliance is nothing but slavery. Which is what to many parents are teaching their children.

  7. Austin J

    Our planet is infected with a population of weak willed parasites that only care about their own creature comfort. They bow to their master, the government, that they are delusional enough to think that the government cares about them. They scoff at the “survivalist” but for some reason secretly believe that those they scoff at will step up, in the name of humanity, and save them from their ignorance and delusion. As for me, WTSHTF, step on my land, uninvited, and you’ll leave feet first.
    Excellent article, but I believe you are preaching to the choir. Those you refer to here would not seek out a website of this nature.

  8. Muncy Zuber

    Your Principles mean little if you don’t WIN. It might be advantageous at times to appear Moderate while still holding Extreme Principles, See Sun Tzu-All warfare is Deception. I think Ben Franklin called himself an Extreme moderate knowing that sometimes you must appear to be what you are NOT!
    ALWAYS WIN, ALWAYS CHEAT- I think from Clint Smith.
    Good article!

  9. John

    Paul, I for one can’t get over how well spoken and educated you are After all you are just a GUN person! I need to do more. I joined the PFT, but have yet to do anything with it. I always make the excuses that I don’t have time with driving the kids to all their events, but I gotta make the time. This is way too important.
    Something that absolutely kills me. And kills any rationale or sane argument with the reasonable people or the left, is that they don’t understand the Constitution or the rationale for it. I can’t argue and try to persuade someone when they don’t know or care how the founders came to their decisions in drafting this document. I also don’t get how so many people are okay with saying to themselves oh I can’t do that. It’s illegal. When will the light bulb go off telling these folks? If we are supposed to be free, why do we have to ask permission from the almighty government to be, “alloud”. To do anything. Getting people to understand that this has gone too far!

  10. J.K. Lowry

    On some things we agree…on this we do not. Your very comments are indeed the breeding of a “Mob.” You seem to say people are less than upstanding if they do not take the entire views of one side or another. Much the thinking of our current congress.

    There is a reason “…it is far more common for people to say they are a moderate this or that than it is for them to pick a definitive side…”. A well balance citizen and man will not see all issues as black or white. The issues are not just black or white and neither is life. That is a “my way or the highway” mentality.

    A person can be pro choice, situation dependent and yet be anti government handout. A man, a good man and citizen, can be pro 2nd and against big business removing consumer choices. A great citizen can have ideals from both the left and the right and not be seen as ” tepid water.” The “wolf” as you describe is both the left and the right, attacking a person of balance. It is this sort of name calling and labeling creating the lack of any compromise. And if you like it or not, this country was built on the fact of some compromise for all of it’s citizens.
    Neither of the two parties in control today represent everything on my ideals list. And I am certainly not “wolf” food. Not by any means. I am indeed a centrist. I am active in what happens in my community, nation and the world.

    There is a big picture to be seen and I am not going to give up what I think could be.

    When it comes time to go to the polls, yes, we all have to make a choice. But no, neither of the two parties in power are my ideal choice. The shame of the situation is we are losing the ability to go to the polls and vote for the man we see as best for the job. We have been reduced to voting against the one we feel is most detrimental.

    That being said, I do agree there are many on the fence and unwilling to move until they can determine which side will be the winning side. But do not lump all proclaimed centrist into one pile.

    A real man will stand up for what he truly believes and try to make it work with and for all until the time comes for the actual fight. And yes, at that time a real man will pick a side and fight, but it does not indicate he is for everything that side stands for. But to say we should all be divided from the beginning is indeed to feed division and incite mobs.

    And of course, not everyone is going to agree with me…I think no less of them, nor should they of me. Have respect for other’s opinions if you want respect for yours.

  11. amcit

    It’s disingenuous to ask whether one is “left”, “right”, or “moderate” unless one also defines the issue. The terms “conservative”, “libertarian”, “liberal”, “progressive”, “socialist”, “fascist” and other labels thrown around lately are contrary to the effort to achieve a common understanding.

    It seems to me, with admittedly more than a handful of exceptions, one must be centrist as compared to others on any given issue, and when one considers life/society/government/whatever in totality, there are few points that define the outer limits. Until “sides” recognize that there are nuances, variations, and gradations of INDIVIDUALS’ thoughts on numerous issues, those “sides” are inciting hatred and are thus, in my book, evil.

  12. Missouri_Mule

    This is the “new” time for choosing speech! Well done Paul.

    1. Missouri_Mule

      It’s interesting to see that those of us who see a bright line of choice acknowledge it with few words and the “moderates” and “middle of the roaders” require a lengthy post to try to justify their lack of decision.

Leave a Reply to Mark Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *