Do We Need More Nuanced Thinking? – Absolutely!

In Life on September 6, 2016 by thebetweenthoughts Tagged:

Black or white…

On or off…

Right or wrong…

We tend to reduce the world into binary choices – absolutes that wash away all of the nuances that provide any uncertainty.  As logical human beings, we aren’t big fans of uncertainty…the unknown frightens us, and so we do we everything we can to absorb those gray areas into black and white choices.

While perusing WordPress as part of Blogging Fundamentals, I came across this post talking about the dark side within all of us…and how we eventually need to “turn on the light” in order to extinguish it.  I didn’t necessarily see it this way.  I saw the value of a “dark side” – the necessity of aggression and destruction in order to create and basically live a complete life.  The need to vanquish our dark sides comes from this binary thinking though.  Since we associate dark sides with negative thoughts, we end up categorizing it as “evil” and something that shouldn’t exist in the world.

Isn’t that immature thinking though?  But more than that, is this a product of the “binarization” of thought as a whole?  With the rise of technology and its underlying binary language of on/off – has that forced us into only thinking there are two states to any situation?  As more and more of our lives are encoded in databases and driving by algorithms, do we risk losing the ability to make nuanced and multi-faceted decisions?  Does everything become a zero sum game with clear winners and losers?

The polarization of our current political system is a prime example of this.  It isn’t enough to consider Trump a bad candidate – he’s evil and a demagogue.  Hillary isn’t just careless with state secrets – she’s corrupt and conspiring against America.  Republicans are anti-science bigots…Democrats are trying to take our freedoms away.  It all seems so silly written out like this, but this is sadly the state of our political discourse these days.  We’ve somehow lost the fact that governing a country of over 300 million people is extremely difficult and in the end, everyone is going to be unhappy on some level.  But we’ve equated that “unhappiness” with the political system, the government, The Man – being an oppressive evil.  It’s as if we can’t even fathom that the government would have to balance the interests of the whole and sometimes our needs won’t be met.

In the end, it’s laziness and selfishness that drive the need for absolutes.  We just don’t want to put in the effort to think holistically…to think creatively…and so we’ve cut the world in half.  Maybe this binary tension is what drives us and inspires us to be something better…but that’s just wishful thinking.  Right?






2 Responses to “Do We Need More Nuanced Thinking? – Absolutely!”

  1. well, the duality of life (categorizing things in good and bad) is imprinted in the human mind but this is what some of the people (including me) are trying to overcome or just overcome it already. And if you do that you see that nothing is by itself good or bad.
But to be able to do that you have to illuminate your “dark side” which means to incorporate your shadow into the Self because the more negative emotions somebody carries the more will he/she see the world in its dual state.
    So paradoxically, it is possible to think holistically only after realising the extreme negative sides.

  2. I think in many ways absolutes are a cop out. The world isn’t black or white, but many shades.

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