It seems to be a fundamental law of the universe that a thing cannot exist without its opposite.
Negatively charged electrons revolve
around positively charged protons.
Male and female.
Inhale and exhale.
Extend and contract.
Seedtime and harvest.
Every good thing exists in a state of duality.
A voice spoke into the darkness,
“Let there be light,”
and the first duality was born.
Darkness didn’t go away; it simply met an opposing force.
Whether you believe the Bible to be ancient folk wisdom or the word of God or something in between doesn’t really matter. Most of us can agree that something about it caused the Bible to be remembered for millennia.
According to the first chapter of Genesis, after the voice pierced the darkness with light, it spoke five other dualities into existence and proclaimed each of the six pairs of opposites to be good.
I’m not writing to you about religion.
I’m writing to you about wisdom.
I’m glad to see you’re still reading! I’m sneaking up on an important point. Stay with me.
Good and evil are not a duality.
Love and hate are not a duality.
Peace and war are not a duality.
The first is life and the second is death.
It shouldn’t be hard to choose between them.
The only difficult choices in life are the choices between two good things.
Freedom and Responsibility are two good things that we must often choose between.
Likewise, a tension exists between Justice and Mercy.
Honesty and Loyalty are also good things.
Have you ever had to choose between them?
Which one is good and which one is evil?
The next time you see two antagonistic groups throwing word-grenades at each other, peer beneath the emotional language and you’ll notice that one group believes in freedom while the other group believes in responsibility. Or one side is pushing for justice while the other side pushes for mercy.
Niels Bohr wasn’t a touchy-feely philosopher. He was a scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Among his discoveries was this:
“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”
Stanislaw Lec said it this way,
“Proverbs contradict each other. That is the wisdom of a people.”
Then F. Scott Fitzgerald challenged you and me to step into a larger realm of living,
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
Don’t fall into the trap of believing you have to choose one and disparage the other.
Every creative person is familiar with the magnetism that exists between opposites. A skillful articulation of this energy is the secret behind hit songs, big movies, bestselling books and successful ad campaigns.
A voice spoke light into the darkness and said it was good.
And Niels Bohr said “Amen.”
And Stanislaw Lec said “Amen.”
And F. Scott Fitzgerald said “Amen.”
So please tell me, if you will,
What say you?
Roy H. Williams
Ronald Tabachnick is an “overload” expert who helps employees of companies like FedEx, Terradata and Audi clear their “mental swamps” of clutter by teaching them how to separate important details from unimportant distractions. Do you need greater focus and peace of mind? If so, join our own roving reporter Rotbart at MondayMorningRadio.com as The Swamp Doctor faces off with the King of the Mental Swamp: Tabachnick versus Rotbart! The match-up of the century.