Meeting minds at Jubilee’s Middle Ground

“Living for empathy and human good is a resilient vision, and one that is worthy of pursuit,” said Jason Lee, the founder of Jubilee Media and its YouTube  said channel “Jubilee.” Starting as a non-profit organization in 2010, Lee created Jubilee Media to promote empathy between people, regardless of their differences. 

In 2018, the series “Middle Ground” was born on YouTube. Jubilee states that this series “explores whether two different groups of people, opposed in their beliefs, can come together empathetically, and find middle ground”. 

The series takes two to three groups of people and gives a statement about a controversial topic. Those who agree then step forward and discuss why, as well as their perspectives on the topic, then those who disagree step forward and discuss their opinions.

The series currently consists of 105 videos. Their videos typically broach controversial topics and difficult conversations. For example, in one of their videos titled “Conservative Parents vs. Liberal Teachers,” four individuals discuss their perspectives on various statements about school curriculums and debate their views on these issues. 

The video is valuable not only for the participants to attempt to see and understand foreign perspectives, but also for the viewers. To any viewer, this video introduces new ideas and perspectives. For instance, a liberal parent might find this video valuable because it helped them see some conservative parents’ perspectives that they did not understand before. A viewer with no relationship to either group might still find the video valuable as it presents several unique ways of thinking about the same topic for the viewer to observe before making any conclusion about where they stand. 

Middle Ground stands out amongst other series because it puts people in an environment that forces them to have productive conversations with their opposing group, regardless of stereotypes they may have for each other. This is difficult to replicate online and in daily life where people often pick sides and automatically discredit other groups without exploring their perspectives first. 

Especially in a predominately technologically reliant time, people often identify others with their respective groups rather than seeing everyone as an individual. For instance, if a liberal sees that someone has “Trump 2024” in their social media bio or shares conservative opinions, this may be enough to stop them from interacting with the person at all, although they may have valuable insight or valid arguments. This can be defined as the “Us vs. Them” mentality, the natural tendency to group people into categories. An article on WebMD explains the dangers of this mentality. It states, “[the “Us vs. Them” mentality] often causes you to make decisions based on subconscious discrimination instead of leaving room for understanding and growth.” This mentality causes people to get defensive in support of their group. As a result, they put a barrier of negative assumptions between themselves and others. 

Middle Ground is a series that breaks down these barriers and emphasizes the importance of empathy and understanding between different groups. The immediate dislike that some people feel for their opposing groups is one thing that prevents these conversations from being had outside of Jubilee’s YouTube channel.

Each person holds their own individual stories and futures. Labels cannot adequately capture any single person nor should they be used to define someone.People are capable of change and growth and should utilize this ability to live the best quality of life for themselves and to improve the quality of life for others. Growing beyond labels allows each person to see everyone, to be more united as one group and to respect everyone regardless of differences in opinion.