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  • Tara Callaghan

Taking Sides: The Importance of Contrast


It’s almost impossible to not become absorbed in US politics these days. Even my six year old nephew has developed strong opinions about Trump. Most people I know feel very worried, disturbed or disgusted with how things have unfolded so far. While I can definitely share these feelings, this topic got me thinking about the relationship between opposing forces: the yin and the yang. Diversity is essential and inevitable on our planet. When diversity is distilled down to a fence with two sides, we see the importance that contrast plays in allowing us to distinguish between differences. Consider these examples:

  • The power of blatant selfishness can awake us to the power of solidarity.

  • Someone’s disregard for the environment spurs people to fight even harder to protect it.

  • We better understand what we want when we experience what we don’t want.

  • We discover the particularities of a place by travelling to another.

  • Our true needs become obvious when we are inundated with needless luxuries.

  • We cherish free time when we must work to earn it.

  • Our sense of identity is strengthened when we confront things that oppose it.

  • A longing for adventure grows from boredom of the mundane, while a grandiose adventure can bring on the desire to nest at home.

  • Appreciation of the presence of something is maximized when contrasted with its absence. In the words of Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.

  • By getting hurt we learn the ability to heal.

  • We come to value our health to the utmost when we are ill.

  • From too much chaos we seek order. From too much routine we seek surprise.

If not for contrasting differences, how could we recognize where we are similar? The trick is where we put our focus. We can comfort each other by focussing on how we are similar; we can rattle and challenge each other by focussing on how we are different; and maybe - just throwing it out there - we can find a little peace by stepping back to witness the undulating harmony that exists between the two.


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