Lockdown Day 51 16 May 2020 – Power of AND

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Saint-Saëns – Symphony No 3 in C minor, Op 78 – Järvi

1. a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.
“a rigid dichotomy between science and mysticism”

du·​al·​ism | \ ˈdü-ə-ˌli-zəm  also ˈdyü- \
Definition of dualism
1: a theory that considers reality to consist of two irreducible elements or modes
2: the quality or state of being dual or of having a dual nature
3a: a doctrine that the universe is under the dominion of two opposing principles one of which is good and the other evil

b: a view of human beings as constituted of two irreducible elements (such as matter and spirit)

At the moment I am often astounded by the dualistic thinking I see on Facebook. Black, or white. Rich, or poor. Hot, or cold. Night, or day. The problem with this is that the underlying dualism is Right (I AM) or Wrong (YOU ARE).  There is no middle ground. There are no alternative.

This is a very exclusive way to think. It immediately puts two opposing ideas on the table. Instead of a conversation about the options, it becomes a discussion (like percussion) of two groups trying to convince the other how wrong they are. And it escalates to an argument and worse. I wonder if that ever worked.

Dualistic thinking works with an either or. Therefore, it is limiting. I like coffee. That does not mean I do not like tea. I like beer, does not mean I do not enjoy a glass of wine, either red or white. When I say I love coffee, you will find people who become offended, because in their minds it means I am condemning people who drink tea. You probably know such people. The reaction is immediately defensive. Defensive reactions lead to arguments.

Years ago, I asked the youth of our church what they prefer to sing, the hymn book or the popular spiritual songs. After a while a teenager stood up and said: “You do not understand, you ask us this or that? And we are saying “hymns AND popular songs.” It is a lesson I never forgot. It enriched my life and taught me about the power of ‘AND.”

“AND” is powerful, it gives you options. Do I prefer tea or coffee? I like both and beer and wine and water and sometimes an ice cold Coke. I forgot about sparkling water! How boring is tea or coffee! How interesting is an infinite choice of drinks! Imagine the options! Do you prefer rugby or cricket? I like both, and tennis and surfing. That is the power of “AND.” It enriches.

We can both be right – or wrong! We can both be right and wrong! But if we dig into the trenches and start firing on each other, it is like all wars – No war determines who is right or wrong, just who could survive.

You know that stupid saying: “I complained about not having shoes, then I saw somebody without feet.” A typical dichotomy. I can be grateful for my feet and complain about not having shoes and feel sorry for the guy without feet (unless the intention is to put me on a guilt trip so I buy him a foot spa! Now I am purposely nasty.) 

Does it have to be capitalism or socialism? Does it have to be capitalism or communism? Or can we listen to socialists and learn something to make capitalism better? Can we listen to Marx and make capitalism better? If we use “and” rather than “or” we will have so many more ideas and options. Is the choice today between the economy or lives? If we work with that dualism, we are creating another dualism – we are deciding should people die of the virus or starvation or diseases associated with poverty? On the other hand, if we can say we need to save lives and the economy (we need the economy anyway to pay for what we need to save lives), fewer people may die.

If we can learn to converse more, recognize or dualistic thinking and use “and” rather than “or” we will have fewer wars and much more wealth of ideas and prosperity. We can solve problems on new level and more creatively.

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