Monday, April 23, 2007

Let's talk contrasts

I believe most of you agree that balance is one of the most important aspects of life. It's present in almost every human and animal activity, whether it's on a conscious level or not. Mostly not.
We die so that others can have a chance to live, we are born because there is such a thing as male and female. The world is built on contrasts. Now this isn't something new, no doubt about it. I believe we've all heard of the Yin-Yang philosophy a few times. Or at least worn a necklace with the round-shaped symbol. But do we really understand the concept? And what's more, do we fully agree with it?
Understanding it isn't that hard. You can't be happy unless you've experienced sadness, you can't think of something as beautiful unless you've seen something ugly. Our brain works on a level where we compare everything we see and experience with something we've seen and experienced before. No matter how wrong that is in some cases (xenophobes, for example). Keep in mind I'm referring to actual thinking here, not primary, genetic instincts.
OK. With that out of the way, my question is this : what about progress? Sure, balance and tranquility is nice, it's what we're all supposedly looking for all the time. But are we really?
No human progress or so-called progress in some cases was ever built on balance. It always meant pushing one side more than the other. For scientific discoveries, it meant giving up on religion, on social status and sometimes on your own life. For the religiously and spiritually successful people it meant only trusting one side of their personality and giving up on many things that made sense scientifically. What about on a micro level? We can't ever have both personal and professional lives that are exceptional in every way. Or both spiritual and material wealth (ok, those cases are very rare and usually imply an unusual status to begin with). Or both a good figure and a shitload of endorphins all the time. Even biological evolution itself depends on going beyond the limits and the status quo, developing one extra feature that others don't have and that will lead to your specie's survival. You know, I could go on forever. But the point is that everything out of the ordinary, everything exceptional and that leads to any kind of progress, whether it's on a personal or global or universal level, implies breaking the balance. But there's the big 'but' that comes with it.

So then what's the conclusion? Does well-being come from balance or from progress?

Or is it ultimately balancing THOSE two?
No matter how I look at it, it's always a circular chain of questions...