Saturday, January 24, 2009


The world is full of tensions, a word I want to use in a technical sense as between two contrasting points. It is rather easy to enumerate some tensions, let me present a few:
  • Good and Evil
  • Truth and False
  • Global Warming and Global Cooling
  • Rich and Poor
  • Ugly and Beautiful
  • Liberty and Bondage
  • Equality and Inequality
  • Courage and Cowardice
  • Smart and Stupid
  • Elegant and Crass
You probably get the idea. Each of these is a tension and a kind of spectrum and we commonly see one of them as better than the other except perhaps where some mean is to be preferred to either extreme. Nor can we always tell which is which so that one can confuse evil with good, truth with falsity, and so it is true that sometimes we make false judgments. This possibility should always be kept in mind. It is not that evil can ever be better than good, but our judgment of what is evil may be flawed just as our judgment of what is good may be. A stance of careful discernment and patient humility as we explore seems appropriate. And this is difficult because it is common to experience urgency and stridency in defense of what we think is right.

We are told that diversity is a strength and I think that is true when we are talking about matters of taste. De gustibus non est disputandum. There's no accounting for taste said the Romans. But when the point at issue is truth versus falsity then matters are different. In our modern world we confuse taste with truth all the time. Frankly that's scary! We also tend to be non-respectors of language. The current liberal reinvention of torture to include what amounts to extreme embarassment is a case in point. But that's a topic for another day. I want to set the stage for some explorations of tensions.

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