Thursday, June 27, 2013

Either-or distopia precludes the TAO

YIN AND YANG is used to describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many natural dualities (such as male and female, light and dark, high and low, hot and cold, water and fire, life and death, and so on) are thought of as physical manifestations of the yin-yang concept. The concept lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine,[1] and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (t'ai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung) and of I Ching.

Yin and yang are actually complementary, not opposing, forces, interacting to form a whole greater than either separate part; in effect, a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation.
In Taoist metaphysics, good-bad distinctions and other dichotomous moral judgments are perceptual, not real; so, yin-yang is an indivisible whole. In the ethics of Confucianism on the other hand, most notably in the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu, (c. 2nd century BCE) a moral dimension is attached to the yin-yang idea.[2]
The concept of yin and yang is often symbolized by various forms of the Taijitu symbol, for which it is probably best known in Western cultures. (from Wikipedia)

Taoism"In Taoist metaphysics, good-bad distinctions and other dichotomous moral judgments are perceptual, not real; so, yin-yang is an indivisible whole."
In the west we seem locked into a different metaphysic: a kind of black and white child-like conflict that really plays itself out in our movies, our television shows and our political conversation.
The 'right' sees itself as both 'right' and the defenders of small government, big armies and a tsunami of capitalism unrestricted except by the ingenuity and the will of the practitioners.
The 'left' sees itself as both 'ethical' and compassionate serving as the voice of the forgotten, the underclass, a small army and a managed capitalism that attempts to level the playing field.
And never the two shall integrate, compromise, balance each other, or become part of a whole, either visibly or covertly.
And yet.....
we are living in a vortex of influences, many of them seemingly beyond both our control including our definition of and prescriptions for the "problem."
We refuse to drop our simplistic categories, all of them in conflict with their opposites, in an infinite battle that offers each of us, at best four choices: join the right, join the left, withdraw or become an activist, really a sub-set of the first two.
 Hegel's dialetic posits a thesis, an anti-thesis and emerging from the debate between those two is a new synthesis. And while that larger process may be operating in our peceptions of the world, and in our developing perceptions of the possibilities, there is definitely a different and troubling worldview that keeps rearing its head....fanned by a media voracious for both simplistic and lethal conflict between personalities, forces, institutions, and even moralities.
Are we not failing to teach our children to embrace the complexities of all issues, and not just the empirically measured differences between heat and particles in physics, for example?
Are we not failing to teach our western children the wisdom of the TAO?
Are we not failing to teach our children the gifts of those we call, in geo-political terms, our enemies, so frightened are we that it is a kind of obsessive fear that grips our conversations, our headlines, our dialogue, and our attempt to deal with others at work, at school, in our churches and around the world?
Are we not in danger of falling into a trap of perceptions that  may, at one time, have served to authenticate various conflicts, yet no longer can be sustained in a world so inter-connected and inter-dependent and in so much danger, both to indivuduals and to institutions?
We read about "transnationalists" who wish to develop legal principles to apply across national boundaries, and of course their opponents trash their every thought, because to develop such principles that each country would enforce, would be a denial of "democracy" which asserts that laws be written and passed by individuals who are elected by their constitutents and can be turfed by those voters at election time. And so, we dig two more, really similar holes...one that sees beyond our national boundaries into the future, and another that looks back to keep "restricted" definitions and their applications in place.
Why can't or won't we embrace the virtues of both: preserving our own democracies while also embracing the benefits of shared transnational legal principles that could bring us into a more integrated and more tolerant and more enriched perception of who we are both individuallly and collectively, two more words that are loaded with political and cultural freight, not permitted to sleep in the same sentence?
Why can't our world view include a reverence for both the past and the future, without either sacralizing or denigrating either?
Why can't our world view include a reverence for both male and female, without demonizing or pedestalling either?
Why can't our perception of how we move forward include respect for both the labour movement and the corporate gifts without bowing to either idol?
Why, indeed, do we obsess about idols, at all?
Are we not, in fact, in deed and in belief falling into a new form of idolatry: our obsession with both instant gratification and the technology that "appears" to adapt to our every breath?
I heard recently, through a very close colleague, that one Canadian writer has observed that many Canadian young people are not able to sign their own name....leaving the pen and its gifts out of their experience....
Has our collective and political and educational reality been so trimmed, (as in budget trimming of the "fat") that our children will be able only to digitize their identity?
Has our political and psychological and metaphysical reality been so "dumbed-down" that we will have a few genuises running things and a host of nobodies letting them?
And are we in danger of letting this happen, or have we already arrived in our own distopia?

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