The third rail in electrified rail transport is the exposed electrical conductor that carries high voltage power, up to 1,200V; stepping on the high-voltage third rail usually results in electrocution. The third rail in this website’s name is the metaphor about controversial, highly charged or provocative issues in our society. These are “sacred cows”, taboo subjects that people often avoid because the consequences of expressing unpopular views. In the context of the website, the Third Rail in the name is the indication of the risk involved in dealing with controversial subjects: capital punishment, climate change, poverty and welfare, war on drugs, feminism, homosexuality and same-sex marriage, abortion and embryonic stem cell research, God, Satan, separation of church and state, anxiety and depression, suicide, immigration, race, gun control, war, and terrorism just to name a few. It is also about the power the third rail supplies and the tough balance required in being moderate and independent in America.
The term is often associated with the canonical gospels. However, in the context of this website, the gospel simply means the Good News. You might ask, what good news? The good news is that with open mind, some humility, love and grace, the above-mentioned controversial subjects and more could be addressed without the fear of “electrocution.” No one has a monopoly of truth, wisdom, compassion……we can all benefit from other people’s perspectives. That is the good news!
This is the Third Rail Gospel; it is navigating through difficult subjects with love, grace and humility. The opinions on this website are based on my own experience, reading, talking with others, and hours of reflection; they are not revealed truths or some special kind of knowledge. I am not in any way more knowledgeable or wiser than anyone of you; we can all grow in knowledge and wisdom by sharing thoughts and ideas. Our thoughts and feelings are not usually the thoughts and feelings of others. Nevertheless, our thoughts and feelings are heavily influenced by the things we were taught and our own experience. What we have been taught and have experienced cannot be extrapolated to totally explain the world and other people, which we often do.
I don’t have the right answers, but I have plenty of questions; framing the questions without a preconceived answer or conclusion in mind is always a good start. Hopefully, through the articles on this website and the ensuing discussions, we can all learn to ask more thoughtful questions, reflect deeper, see the world through other people’s lenses, and come up with answers that are grounded in love, compassion and respect for self and others.