Contradictions and opposites


When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door, wrote French philosopher Simone Weil.

 The world spins on opposites—the yin and yang of night and day, positive and negative electrical charges, gasses and solids. Chinese cuisine is built around bringing opposites together as each meal ideally contains sweet and sour, salty and bitter. Society requires both justice and mercy. These differences don’t cancel out each other but rather constitute wholeness.

Opposites can be viewed as contradictions, and sometimes they are. Life, though, would be poorer without the complement of opposites, if there was no mind to balance heart, no hard to balance soft. There would be no progress if there were no discordant notes in the harmony.

Not all opposites are valuable. Sometimes it is the mid-point between them that is sought. It is excess on the one side and deficiency on the other that is to be avoided. Neither foolhardiness nor cowardice are virtues; neither thirst nor drunkenness are desirable. There are opposites that need tempering and compromise, where finding the mean is desirable.

Life is full of contradictions. Some need embracing; some need letting go of. The universe is full of multitudes. Let in that which complements your deficiencies and reject those that cancel your uniqueness.

 

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