Tolerance isn’t what you think it is

Gary, davis, reverberation, wilhelm, friedrich, hamlet, thesis, antithesis, tolerance


Georg W
ilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German born 19th Century philosopher who speculated on the nature of Being and Nothingness (“To Be or Not To Be…? Hamlet?). He concluded that for every thesis, a statement about some idea, there is an opposing antithesis, an opposing idea. These two opposing positions would battle it out and result, most of the time, in a synthesis of the two. Hegel used this formulation only once, but it formed the basis for many of his subsequent hypotheses.

So today, 200 years on, what does this have to do with anything?!?

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel  1770 - 1831  In these last few weeks/months/years our society has become so reactionary that people are neglecting the common courtesy of thinking before they act. Too many of us are jus’ letting” it all hang out, blowing up, accusing each other, not even listening to the other group’s full thesis. Thus do tempers flare, stereotypes flourish, and a kind of seething hatred takes over, further widening the gap between people and positions. Winning is all that matters. Being right. It’s always tit for tat: thesis vs. antithesis. We never seem to grow into a synthesis beyond all our posturing.

The recent Supreme Court rulings for gay-marriages, Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner, and our President striking a nuclear pact with Iran, Confederate Flag waving, have all contributed to the further polarization of the Left & the Right, Conservative vs. Liberal, Bible Belt/Wheat Belt vs. East/West Coasts & our larger cities. E pluribus unum still means Out of many, One; but we are hardly definable by that precept any longer

It would be more accurate to admit that we are a nation of individualists, of special interest groups, of political parties & sub-parties, of religious and non-religious groups all seeking dominance in the dance of democracy. One group wins over another, then another group triumphs: thesis- anti-thesis; we never arrive at a synthesis for the common good.

It’s time we brought divergent groups, parties, & whoever to the table of human decency and admitted we live in a pluralistic society. We are bound together not to fight only for our own rights, but to fight for each other’s right to exist and to have a voice. We owe it to one another to learn NOT to tolerate one another, but to defend each other, to care about the prosperity and happiness of people who are not like us. We may not be “under God” any longer (probably never were), but at the very least we owe it to ourselves and to our children to work on a resolution to all the brawling for self-aggrandizing superiority.

IF we do not, this reactionary positioning will have reverberations well into many future generations.

Synthesis.

God help us all

  Gary

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Winning

Gary, Davis, Gandhi, Winning,

First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

1869 – 1948

I’ve never won much in life. Well, that is, if you consider, kewpie-dolls at the county fair, the first prize in a match-box car race, or a Monopoly game, or certain sports events worth winning; I just don’t seem to be cut out for winning: not, at least, at this level. I’d rather put my time and energy into winning the battle for the souls of men & women, for justice, for clearer communication between peoples who don’t even want to talk with each other, let alone consider loving each other. I’d like to bring peace where there is very little of it: that’s worth winning.

Winning is different for everybody. For some of us, every human exchange is a competitive event:  someone has to win, someone has to lose. These people play their game with every ounce of their strength and will power (in sports, business, simple conversations, or relationships) to win. For three years during college I was on our Debate Team; I never lost even one debate. As I grew in life, after college, a couple graduate programs, & a doctorate, I had to learn how NOT to win. Why? Because I lost too many relationships always trying to win, to be right, to wind up Number ONE. It wasn’t worth it to me.

When our children were in their formative years I used to tell them— If you put yourself on Top, there’s only one direction you can go. If you put yourself on the Bottom, there’s only one direction you can go. ‘Nough said.

So, my question to you is this— What’s worth winning? Is it scoring that winning point in a game? Being summa cum laude at graduation? Becoming Senior Vice-President by age thirty? Or simply driving the coolest car? To be sure there are some things in life worth winning; and, there are some things in life not really worth fighting for. We all need to pick our battles carefully. C a r e f u l l y.

For me, I just want to make a difference in this world before I check out. How about you?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Certainty, probability, or mystery

Certainty, probability, or mystery— where are you most comfortable? Most of us are low-risk people; we fall somewhere in between certainty and probability. Of course, some of us will not make a decision unless we are absolutely certain of the outcome. This is a good character trait if you are designing cars, space ships, medical procedures, or nuclear fusion colliders; maybe not such a good trait if you are launching a new art form, or writing a book, or nurturing your EQ (Emotional Quotient).At one time or another all three of these qualities will emerge in our lives to suit the occasion— some, more than others. Booking a flight to Glasgow should be more of a certainty; but in today’s airline industry it is oft only a probability, or worse, a mystery. Asking someone to marry you may seem like a mystery, but it had better be more of a probability if it is ever to become a certainty.

Trying to live exclusively in any one of the three individualities causes problems. Insisting on complete certainty produces fear and insecurity: dwelling on the probability of something coming to pass might reduce being proactive, or commitment to see it through, and doubt: whereas living in the mystery will leave you with a sense of wonder, true, and no way to support yourself. Mystery does spark ingenuity and creativity; but it is dedicated perseverance that will bring your dreams to life. And a Team of like-minded individuals. And Money. And Faith. Faith that this will work! You have to believe in yourself…, and your ideas.

So if you find yourself frustrated, floundering, feeling lost at sea and directionless, it is probably more likely than not that you are ready to Go for it!

So STOP waiting for further proof of certainty. Jump into the mystery. More than 150 years ago, Danish philosopher/existential theorist Søren Kierkegaard called it a “leap of faith.” He was right.

Being comfortable in your skin is not always the best thing for us. A little trepidation is a good motivator.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary