The “This AND That”

We are confusing as hell. 

That statement probably did not surprise you. I don’t think I need to tell you that figuring out this whole life thing can feel difficult. To be human is complex. Even our best minds and most influential stories have fallen short in completely embracing what it is to be human. 

Take Socrates – a man known for wisdom, logic, and clarity whose words are still used over 2000 years later. Through all of his work, the man never cried. Thought so little of it he kicked his wife out for crying at his execution. Think about that. One of the founding fathers of Western philosophy, a giant among the minds of generations, overlooked the humanity that is crying. To be human is to cry. Tears of joy, sadness, both. One can not encompass what it is to be human without the incorporation of tears. 

So how about biblical text? Believed to be the one true guide for many. It is said that Jesus was not one to hold back tears. “Jesus Wept”, the shortest, yet for some, most powerful scripture in the bible. Jesus also showed anger. Flipping the tables of merchants at the temple. But as the English Philosopher G.K. Chesterton brings to light in his most popular work “Orthodoxy”, throughout the whole bible Jesus never laughs. Incredible. To be human is to laugh. Connection lives in laughter. Love lives in laughter. Humanity lives in laughter.

What I am saying is that our best philosophical guides and most popular western religious practices struggle in giving a complete picture of what it is to be human. No wonder we have a hard time. Yet, when presented with a complex societal human problem, we are quick to over simplify the cause, falling into dogmatic practices by labeling unfamiliar language with familiar words. Follow this, If you as a person are complex, and a person turns into people who then turn into society, doesn’t that make society just a place that holds many “persons”? That very thing that we all know as complex? Society being then a multitude of complexities yet we label it with simplicity. We live in a society that punishes one for thinking about the best move more than it does for blindly choosing one. We choose the “This or That” rather than the “This AND That” as Carl Jung would say. How dumb. How disabling. How blinding to that that is the world. Humanity lives in the “This AND That”. 

All this to say, be careful when you immediately hear a simple answer to a complex problem. We humans are hard to grasp, and our problems, like our solutions, are layered. Don’t fall for the comfort that is familiar words. This does not mean do not try to solve difficult problems. Quite the opposite. This means try to solve them better.

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