He swallows, but his mouth is still dry after hearing that there will be no middle ground to stand on. To him, the middle ground is the only place where one can remain neutral, possibly having no allies, but having no enemies either. There’s peace to be found by remaining neutral, so all this talk about taking sides makes him nervous.
He looks around and sees people take the news in different ways; some who share the same look as him, and others who seem unshakeable.
Perhaps safety is overrated, and the children and grandchildren that come after his generation will learn something better than what he now knows.