This month’s prompt for contemplation is about finding Common Ground to help resolve conflict, relating to our year’s long theme of “Bridging the Divide.” Common Ground or the Middle Path requires meeting someone halfway with respect to a disagreement. How? Looking for the shared common denominator in one another’s interests or goals is the key. Even though two people or two groups or parties even might seem to be impossibly divided, since we all share a common humanity, there must be a middle ground if only we are willing to find it.
This brings up the notion of a Dialectic. Yeats, whose poem on Words I shared last month, was a dialectical thinker. If you ever want to learn how, take a look at his rather obscure book A Vision. There he describes the universe as “an egg, turning inside out without breaking its shell.” Or he describes two opposing gyres of thought or belief, bound together so that the minimal content of one gyre is located in the maximum expanse of the other; opposites instersect and coexist, as Hegel would also state. For example, the greatest objectivity implies some degree of subjectivity and vice versa. When you look at these two intersecting gyres constantly in motion though in opposite directions, what stands out is the CENTER, wherein both sides of an argument maximally overlap as the synthesis between thesis and antithesis.
It is the Center, the dynamic space between polarities, where Common Ground is fertile. It is full in its emptiness of opposition.
Apologies if I am waxing too philosophical but I aim to set the stage with this first of the four monthly posts on this topic. So one more step:
We live as physical beings in a dualistic universe of form and values: for every mountain there must be valleys; where there is darkness, so must there be light. Happiness and sadness, the good and the bad, heroes and villains, one side’s right as the other’s wrongdoings: such is the nature of what some would call the illusional matrix of human experience.
So, how can we meet in the Middle to find our way out of the Labyrinth? Finding the Center is always the key. Let’s say there are ten entry points to an actual labyrinth; where would we all meet up; yes, in the Center.
To reach that Center means to let go of tethers to one opposite polarity or the other. We must be willing to step forward, to enter the labyrinth, to LISTEN to another point of view. What is around the bend from that viewpoint? How can you bring yourself/ your own viewpoint, into that exploration without being caught up in a morass?
Openness and flexibility, and simple Acceptance of difference as well as commonality are needed; they are your tools in the labyrinth that can help you find your way back out, like the golden thread that Theseeus was given by Ariadne. There is a great mythic archetype: Theseus and the Minotaur. King Minos imprisoned Theseus’ brethren and was feeding them to the half-man/ half-bull Minotaur (the meeting point between civilized demeanor and animalistic instinct). Theseus had to battle the minotaur at the center of the labyrinth, manos a manos. In defeating the animal he absorbed some of the brute strength and cunning of the beast and perhaps freed the monster of its animalistic prison. Only by his successful encounter could he earn and assume the rightful position of becoming king back in his homeland of Athens.
In a world of duality, struggle bears fruit. It is only when we refuse to engage that all sides remain unenlightened.
images are from pixabay.com
Let’s see what examples we can apply this to this month!