Only the Shadow Knows…

I grew up hearing,

What Evil lurks in the heart of man?  Only the Shadow knows.  (insert evil laughter)

My dad could do that and the mummy too – apparently, he spent long hours in his childhood perfecting these skills, so he could scare his younger sister.

Years later, I spouted off the Shadow quote – a co-worker (who was 30 years or so older than me) said, “How old are you, really?   That’s a radio program from the 40’s”

I whispered, “457, but don’t tell anyone.”

**********

So now that you know what the Shadow and I know, I’ll tell you what I’m really thinking about.

This a.m., I got caught up on reading all the posts sitting in my blog subscription folder, and reading the new comments posted where I had added my two cents – – (remember, if you want to know the national climate of any topic, read the comments on any news or blog post – that’s where you can really tell what’s going on!)

I’m seeing a disturbing trend of more arguing, less debating surrounding nearly every topic of the day.

I blame the foundation of our culture, “Dualism” for this increase in arguing.

Dualism is aka  Hot/Cold, Good/Evil, Right/Wrong, Win/Lose.

The masters of any age have repeatedly pointed out the detriments of a dualistic world-view, yet doesn’t seem we have slipped the bonds of it yet.

On any topic, there is right, good and proper on one side and wrong, evil and bane-to-society on the other.

And it seems to me, we Americans have lost our ability to Debate.   We are very good at getting emotionally invested in one side of an argument and fighting to the death over our stance, but given my observations in business, politics and personal relationships, I find we don’t debate much anymore –

We either agree or fight.

(Supposedly, there is an option of “agreeing to disagree” – I’ve never found anyone, myself included, that truly agrees to disagree – rather, we stop talking about it all the while secretly waiting for the day the opposition wakes up and smells the coffee….and acknowledges we were right.)

**********

I have a friend from China, who is also a Doctor of Oriental medicine.  We’ve talked about the whole Dualism subject – in her culture, the opposing forces are called Yin/Yang.

The difference between Dualism and Yin/Yang belief systems is simple – in Yin/Yang, one cannot exist without the other – there is no battle for one side to overcome and destroy the other.  There are only activities and processes that keep the two sides balanced.   Imbalance between the two bring about bad things.   And if one is destroyed, the other cannot survive.

I’ve come to the conclusion having that perspective on life makes my daily existence easier and is in tune with how the Universe works.  The whole circle of life thing.

I like dancing to the heartbeat of the Universe – it’s more fun and efficient than trying to conquer or control It …

*********

Gary Craig (Stanford trained engineer and founder of EFT) said there is nothing that can start a war more quickly than a belief.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have beliefs, values or standards – but I do question how many of the beliefs we each hold are really our own.

During my journey, I’ve found that many of my cherished beliefs were not mine at all – I had inherited them from a variety of sources while I was too small and too ignorant to see if the “truth” being told to me was a fact or simply the perspective of someone else.

Because I love to read and research, I’ve found that much of what I thought I knew, isn’t true at all – and much of what I know today, could easily be proven false tomorrow.  I also have found examining your own cherished and sacred beliefs is not always an easy journey.

Like Fonzie, it’s so hard to say we were, “Wwwwrrrrrrrrooooonnng”

I’d really like to change my mind once in awhile and share why, without having to defend either the current or previous stance.

(My brother likes the phrase, “It just Is” when the you-know-what hits the fan.   He’s smarter than me.   No one argues with him about It Just Is.)

**********

Yesterday evening, after a long day at work, I pulled through the drive-through.

Yes, Ms. Sprouts-Her-Own-Locally-Purchased-Wheat-To-Make-Her-Own-Bread decided to purchase fast food.

I spent $2.15 for stuff that probably isn’t the best for me and supports an industry with high-turn over, low employee satisfaction and the mechanism that drives health care costs high, reinforces instant gratification and the belief you can always have it your way, all while encouraging monoculture farming practices.

Those who know me will point out the hypocrisy of my actions –

I was hungry – Sue Me.

In front of me was a man in a SUV with a the bumper sticker:

Peace, Love, Balance = Life

(peace sign, heart, yin/yang = ankh)

I read his mobile library while listening to his angry discourse to the drive-through employee:

“Just how long does it take to make a lousy hamburger?!?”

I could have told him it takes longer when you special order nothing but patties, cheese and bread.   How, you might ask, did I know that’s what he ordered?

Well, apparently, the crew was so hurried and distraught, they accidentally gave me one of his special ordered burgers.

I discovered this nearly 10 minutes after driving off with my bag full of off -the-menu selections and passed by where he had pulled over to wait for his ‘have-it-your-way’ selections.

Nope, I didn’t drive back to give him what was his or to complain my order was wrong – I ate it and thanked my tummy for shutting up about being hungry and told my taste buds to quit bemoaning the lack of ketchup.

I’m a selfish monster.

**********

Having Ideals and living those Ideals are two different things.

Setting our Ideals so high and touting them so loud only means when we slip off our soapbox, we have a big audience that will notice.

The louder we fight with each other over who is right and who is wrong, the less we get accomplished.

And the less we examine our own beliefs, the more likely we are to make an arse out of ourselves – sooner or later.  Trust me, I know…

**********

I like to philosophize.  I’ve learned that if I want to talk with another about the ‘hard subjects’ (i.e. abortion, right to die, homosexuality, the stock market, any system that ends in “ism”, healthcare…..) it’s best to open the subject with a carefully worded sentence announcing my intent to debate the topic. (You know, let’s each take a side and hey, just for fun, let’s switch sides mid-stream and see what happens!”)

I like to believe these conversations are reminiscent of those that took place while Socrates and Aristotle were alive.

The phrase, “Hey, hypothetically (or philosophically) what do you think would be the end result if….” also tends to work.

Anything to get the conversation started and set the tone for a mutual discourse.

This way of conversation was not a natural for me.   It became a hard-earned skill  – simply because I’m a debater or Devil’s Advocate at heart – I love picking apart anything and looking at stuff from a myriad of perspectives.   Those activities are my hobbies and ‘fun time’.

While I realized those activities are not viewed by most folks in the same light as a vacation to Hawaii, I only recently realized how few of those around me are natural debaters.

Even though I knew I just wanted to discuss all the perspectives and possibilities – all they could hear was me trying to convert them over to ‘my side’ or worse, how I was telling them they were Wrrroooonnnngggg.

I should have realized this whole nugget of information years ago, because I can’t tell you how many times  someone said, “But you just said the opposite a moment ago….”

(insert bemused look  – If the conversation lacks a debating partner, I can happily debate with myself in front of a confused audience…)

Que-sera, sera, I, stuck in my own perspectives and illusions didn’t hear what they were saying, anymore than they could hear me.

How much easier my life would have been had I understood this about myself and the world I inhabit years ago.

**********

The switch for me from dualism to yin/yang perspective has been profound – it also has meant extra effort and energy in order to repair or maintain friendships with those still in the Dualism point of view.

It also means really (and I mean really) putting the time in to convince people you really want to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do.  In a society ruled by Dualism, we all learn that talking about your deepest beliefs with someone who feels differently is not Safe.   And we learn very early the best Defense is a strong Offense.

Cuz, ya know, we are playing to Win!

**********

For now, yin/yang perspective works better for my peace of heart and mind than Dualism does – – not my job to tell anyone else they should make the switch too –

But man, would I love to debate it – I might have missed some of the pros of Dualism…

P.S. The Shadow knows us and he knows his job in keeping the balance – just in case you were wondering.

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