Archive for the ‘Polarity’ category


February 13, 2012

Virtue is a state of war, and to live in it we have always to combat with ourselves.–Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Virtue is one pole of a polarity, as such it must fight against the other pole. The fight drives vice, the other pole, underground, into the subconscious, where it gains power. Ther vice acts through us in temptation but also through hatred for and fear of the vice we see in others. The more we feel tempted, the more we hate and fear.


January 21, 2012

There are two types of people in the world, good and bad. The good sleep better, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more.–Woody Allen

This is one of the more pervasive myths of our society. That is, it’s a story we’ve made up about the way the world works and how we fit in. Is it true? Who knows, personally I don’t care. I don’t care because that’s the wrong question to be asking about a myth. Better questions would be: Does it work? Does it tell us something useful about who we are? To that I’d say yes. Today’s myth talks about what it’s like being human. Human beings are not good, all we can do is pretend. And pretending that we are something we are not is a mistake. It’s a sin in the original sense of the word, missing the mark.


January 20, 2012

On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.–George Orwell

Our egos want others to see us as good, and we want to see ourselves as good. On the other hand most of us have this suspicion that others (not us) take advantage of good people. And we certainly don’t want others to take advantage of us. In addition many of us suspect that good people have less fun. Once again we don’t want to miss out on any fun. So, good but not too good, that’s our goal.

Maybe that’s okay. The thing is that good is one pole of a polarity. Like most polarities it has more to do with language as it does with reality itself. Also like all polarities, overemphasizing one pole brings disadvantages. Being taken advantage of, and missed fun may or may not be negative consequences of over emphasizing our own goodness. The most significant disadvantages of over emphasis being good is that it leads us to pass judgment on others we perceive as bad. Worse, it causes us to mistreat those we label bad.


December 31, 2011

You’ll never have all the information you need to make a decision. If you did, it would be a foregone conclusion, not a decision.–unknown

This is one pole of a polarity. The polarity is making decisions based on data (reality based) and making them based on gut feel (vision based) There are benefits to both approaches as well as negative impacts for overdoing either one. Waiting to decide is one way of overdoing reality based decision making. It’s actually a way of avoiding responsibility for a poor decision. At worst it results in decision by default. Overdoing the vision based process is like ready, fire, aim. Sometimes you completely miss the target resulting in something worse than no decision at all.


December 27, 2011

When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad.–Tao Te Ching, S. Mitchell tr.

Pairs of opposites are actually polarities. Polarities are creations of the human mind and not necessarily representative of reality. Speaking in the language of mythos, God created the universe and called it good. Should we assume that’s a mistake and that some bits are actually bad? You can’t get around the problem by appealing to some fallen angel, or to original sin. Either it was all good including that angel and the first humans, or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t, God made it badly and then missed the mistakes entirely when he looked at the result.


November 16, 2011

Wisdom tells me I am nothing, Love tells me I am everything. Between the two life flows. We define ourselves by the boundary between self and other. If we are nothing there is no boundary; if there is no boundary we are everything.–N. Maharaj

One of my favorite quotes. The first sentence shows wisdom and love in polarity. The second and third sentences show that this polarity is an artifact of language. It is an artifact of the boundary the word self implies. Love denies this boundary so that everything and nothing become one. In that space wisdom and love become one thing, a thing for which I have no words.


October 15, 2011

It’s only a “foolish consistency” that’s the hobgoblin of small minds. Some level of consistency is a pretty good idea for minds of most any size.–me

Life can only exist between the poles of complete order and total chaos. Our occasional experiences with chaos drive us to find security in order. Some of us are driven to foolish levels of consistency to feel safe. It is a false safety however. After all, the dead are far more consistent than the living.

On the other hand, integrity requires consistency of thought word and deed. and without integrity we are…far less than human.