Chapter 8: Flattened by Polarization

Edwin Abbott Abbott’s mathematical tale Flatland highlights the struggle we have in seeing outside the boxes of our limited worlds. With the polarization of both politics and religion, and even with the polarization of the interaction of these two different worlds of thought, we have created a black and white, good and evil bifurcated world. Polarization creates a two-dimensional worldview. Have you experienced the difficulty of getting another person to understand that you had a completely different point of view than the simple two options we are typically given? What are some of the topics you have struggled with the most in your circle of friends and family?

Have you discovered any principles for breaking that polarization and moving beyond the “blindness”?

4 thoughts on “Chapter 8: Flattened by Polarization

  1. A possible example of a current issue that is plagued with flat approaches. Pretty much everything associated with LGBTQ issues and marriage. There are polarizing, flat perspectives on all sides of the debate. Male/female marriage good – all others bad. Born that way – chose that way. x is “sin” – x is “not sin”. On and on the debates and stone throwing goes.

    Perhaps there is a third way? Jesus provides a hint by saying that in heaven, there is no marriage and also implies that gender is not an issue at all in the presence of the fullness of God. Therefore, the issue becomes how then shall we live on this side of that future world? I propose that in this life the most beneficial model to the healthy and continued existence of human beings in community is the male/female partnership but if others desire to pursue another model, let them do so as long as it does not produce harm. I believe this correctly highlights the need for the centrality of the male/female model while allowing for other expressions in freedom. Complete freedom in this issue (btw our current cultural path) may result in complete chaos. Rigid adherence to male/female only partnerships has caused much pain and anguish to those who don’t share that orientation. Neither position is ideal.

    However, as the book so aptly points out, trying to carve out this third way position would seem to trigger others to see it as yet another flat position which needs to be fought and argued against. I believe that while Jesus consistently resisted any attempt to be drawn into this issue he also did not hide the core view that “in the beginning, God made them male and female”.

    1. John, yes, I agree, there may not be a more flat set of perspectives than the typical talking points on the issues of sexuality today. At least, in our Canadian/US worlds. Later in the book I get into that issue a little. I think we can expect the issues that we are most passionate about, and are closer to our personal desires and experiences are the issues, which we have most severe cognitive dissonance about. And like you observe here, applies to both left and right. What a mess! 🙂

      Some great observations bro. Thanks.

  2. The source of the vast majority of our problems is the Western thought system’s insistence that all binaries are oppositional. Binary oppositions beget choice, and choice begets privilege.

    I have always taught my students that “yes” is an acceptable answer to any either/or question.

    1. Yes! and no. 🙂 I cannot help but wonder if this current political season is giving us the opportunity to see that some either/or questions are best answered with a “no.”

      I love your observation that, “Binary oppositions beget choice, and choice begets privilege.” Thank you my friend – and shalom, or as they shout in the Welsh National Eisteddfod together, “heddwch!”

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