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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Dichotomy

On day two of the A to Z challenge, I talked about Balance. Today, I'd like to talk about the natural force that puts us in a place where balance is an issue: Dichotomy.

Dichotomy is literally everywhere in our world. Nearly everything we say, think, do, or experience is predicated on it. Hot and Cold. Hungry and Fed. Tired and Rested. Happy and Unhappy. Dichotomy is the ballast in the ship of our life here on Earth, the weight that drags us down and the lightness that bears us up. How, then, does it relate to balance?

Considering the simple physics of the thing, balance is the idea that opposing forces or masses can reach a neutral state with respect to one another- the idea that This can be completely inert as it relates to That. Weights hanging from a cord; a tree trunk poised just so across the top of a large stone; our relationships with other people... balance is when all the forces at play in a given scenario reach a zero sum, where the first half of the law of inertia ceases to be a consideration. You remember the law of inertia, right? An object in motion tends to stay in motion; an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

Consider, then, how that relates to the idea of Dichotomy. One of my favorite examples of Dichotomy (and one of my own most painful, most poignant personal struggles) is Give and Take. We all know people who are unbalanced in both directions: takers, who hoard everything they can get their hands on and won't share anything with anyone... and givers, people who hand out everything they have, who give until it burns, until it bleeds, but who cannot figure out how, when it's ok to accept, to take. Ah, but balance... when you balance Give and Take, the picture changes remarkably. When you Take what you Need, and you Give what you can Spare... suddenly your Spare fills the Need of another, and your Need gets filled by something someone else had that was... extra? Surplus? There are many ways it can manifest. A very wise man I know once told me, "Sharing multiplies; hoarding divides." When you share, everyone has more. When you hoard... somehow, there's less to go around, even if the math says otherwise.

What does all this have to do with Dichotomy?

Consider: we live in a world at war. Constant, relentless war. It's not always fought with bullets and missles; more often, it's fought with rhetoric and vituperation. It's fought with hate, with accusation, with the attitude of "I'm Right, and YOU are going to be MADE to see that."

...but why?

Why is it that we have this overwhelming need to be RIGHT? Are we afraid of being WRONG? Are we afraid that we might LEARN something? That we might have to CHANGE something? Where, WHERE did we get the idea, the very nearly pathological idea, that it will hurt us to grow? That's what it is, really, in the end- a fear of growth, of expansion... so we clamp down, we cling to our one chosen end of a given dichotomy- religion, orientation, race, politics, the list is endless- and we fight, tooth and nail, for the right to force what we think on others.

War indeed... but, in the final analysis, it's a war we fight with ourselves.

For most of my life, I took the position that Dichotomy was Bad... that it was the source of conflict between people. I spent years looking for the fulcrum upon which all these oppositions teetered. What I found was that dichotomy, really, is nothing more than a mechanism by which we have the opportunity to see other points of view, other ways of being, other ways of doing things. In short, other ways to grow.

Hold onto the ideas I've set forth today. On Friday, when us A to Zers do G, I'll be reaching back to these ideas in what I write then.


  1. Thank you, sir, for this post. I truly enjoy your perspective and it's always nice to read someone else making sense of other random thoughts you may have had at one point along the way.
    You also encouraged me to learn a new word! Vituperation. I had to look it up. =)

  2. WOW this one is great!! Got to love learning a new word and a new perspective!! :) Thank!!

  3. Beautifully presented wisdom, Brother. Thank you. :)

  4. Spider, you are brilliant if I do say so myself. Looooooove YOU!!

  5. You really need to stop hitting the nail directly on the head bro, or you're gonna create your own unbalance. ;) Thanks for the well written wisdom, and the excuse to break out the ol' book of words!