You don't have to look too far to find the people on the extremes of feelings about the senseless killing last week of five members of the United States military.
They write letters to the editor, they're interviewed on television, heard on radio and make their feelings known in blogs.
One extreme is those who are sure an Islamic State-inspired (even trained) Muslim hit Chattanooga last week, and for that reason all Muslims now should be suspect. Another extreme consists of folks who believe the deaths are a deserved consequence of actions taken by a military-crazy, foreign nation-meddling country.
And then there are those in the middle, people who are not conspiracy theorists but who also do not believe their country is evil. They are the ones who wake up every day and wonder how they can make the world a better place in their own way.
You've seen them around, too.
They place flags at the makeshift memorial at the armed services recruiting center on Lee Highway, they prepare donated flowers to be distributed at the funeral of one of the victims, they vow to be a human shield to protect a victim's family members from seeing the protests of a hate group, they bring food to police officers, they pray for the victims' and the shooter's families at local churches, synagogues and mosques, they give money to local foundations to go to the victims' families and they hold up an American flag as the hearse carrying a victim drives by.
Sometimes they're celebrities — like college basketball's Mike Krzyzewski and pro football's Peyton Manning — who reach out with gestures of assistance not for publicity but for the sake of human decency.
Sometimes they're members of the police force who routinely put bodies before bullets to prevent the injury of innocent victims, or doctors and nurses whose trauma training is so precise they know how to react in an emergency without even thinking, or state and federal investigators whose experience allows them get to the bottom of a complex, confusing incident of terror.
Many of them will be out today, expressing their love and thanks and sorrow to the family of Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt, whose funeral will be at Hixson United Methodist Church. They'll be out again next Tuesday for the rites of U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, whose funeral will be at First Baptist Church of Fort Oglethorpe.
They won't have to say a word; their mere presence is a gesture of solidarity.
In their homes with their families, they quietly discuss the past week, not wanting to think the worst of a young man born in a Middle Eastern country but cognizant of a world in which war is no longer fought on battlefields but online, with drones and with individual savage acts.
In their neighborhoods and in their jobs, they have friends of all races and are not disconnected from those different from themselves as stereotypers would have us believe. They truly take to heart the biblical mandate to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
They're Chattanooga's broad middle, probably 80 to 90 percent of the people who live in the area. They're Democrats and Republicans, black and white, gay and straight, Christian, Jew and Muslim.
They subscribe to the Chattanooga Way, a mantra which not only describes the often public and private collaborations in the area but also the quiet, dignified, loyal way in which many residents transact their lives in peace and harmony and love for their neighbors. They're proud and patriotic and giving and concerned.
The world always will have people at its fringes. Often, their voices seem loud and shrill and threaten to drown out the rest. Occasionally, their rhetoric is sprinkled with elements of truth. But the Scenic City is fortunate to have at its core a people who love rather than hate, give rather than receive, serve rather than be served and console rather than be consoled.
Those attributes have never been as visible as they have been in the past week in the face of one of the most visible tragedies in the city's history.