Abraham Lincoln famously stated in 1858 after accepting the Republican nomination for the Illinois senate that “a house divided against itself can not stand”. As powerful and gripping a statement as that is it actually makes little sense – unless of course that house is a single room log cabin…which is, in fact, what Lincoln grew up in during his youth in Kentucky. In reality most ‘homes’ are divided and done so for a variety of reasons. The reason that stands out most boldly to me is to create the feeling of privacy. Not in the paranoid sense of the word per se but rather in a fashion that fosters respect and independence.
Lincoln as brilliant and courageous as he was (passing judgement on a person of this caliber is very unsettling by the way) might have missed the mark a bit in his assessment. All the world exists in division and contradiction. We have light and darkness…there’s hot and cold. It makes no more sense to fight against these things than it does to try to stick it to gravity. The key I believe is working within to find a way to manage. This is done in nature every moment of every day – they’re called atoms.
Think about – the configuration of an atom has a positively charged component (protons) situated next to neutrons (neutral particles) surrounded by cloud(s) of negatively charged particles (electrons). Sure, compounds are formed by the donating or sharing of particles – but in the end they still remain in this contradictory nature. As in science so in life things are in constant opposition. Even today I personally struggle with understanding and accepting this. The main reason this exists is because of the idealized version of the world I (and many others) have created in our mind.
Having strong ideals is a noble undertaking and sadly has cost the very lives of those believers having them – Lincoln, Dr. King, Ganhdi, Robert Kennedy and numerous other civil rights activists. To see gross inequalities based on things such as race and gender is abhorrent. Being ‘human’ while not actually being ‘humane’ is the ultimate contradiction. Yet it still exists and will continue to do so. Is there an answer on how to cope with this phenomenon? Perhaps there is but it’s likely not something people want to hear, acceptance.
Don’t confuse acceptance with complacence though. We are NOT saying it’s (whatever the grievance) okay. We’re only acknowledging that contradictions do exist, the next step is the work around. The key to be better skilled at navigating thru these is like anything else…starting early. Bring our young heads down from the clouds and (gently) place our feet on the ground. It is there we can start moving and it will be through our actions that any type of change will occur. The process will be slow but will be worth it to create a new balance and order to the world we live in.