Understanding Our World According To Dualisms

Why must everything be understood according to dualisms?

Mind/Body. Health/Wealth. Self/Other. Natural/Man-made. Induction/Emotion.

Why must everything be 'either-or's? This or that? You or me? Why must everything be understood according to labels?

"It's to make our lives easier." 

By grouping the phenomenon, people and places around us under distinct umbrellas, it's easier to make peace with the world. Easier to live, to survive.

He's an asshole. Ignore him. She's just terrible. Don't mind her. Life's like that. 

Or maybe labels that're even more insidious. He's a foreigner/ black/ white/ Asian. They all behave that way. Men/Women/ Lecturers/ Students are like that. Don't bother.

It's tough, to understand  and appreciate people as individuals and events as unique occurrences  It demands energy and time. It takes too much. It's easier to approach issues and people after labelling them with encompassing stereotypes.

Every now and then, that'd be reminders that we shouldn't paint everything with a broad brushstroke. There'd be stories about people who realise that others are individuals worthy of respect and love. There'd be memes about recognising the uniqueness of our colleagues, family and friends.

But why do we need these reminders? Why do we lapse so quickly and readily into stereotyping?

Perhaps, somewhere along the evolutionary arms race, we learned that it's profitable to stereotype, to simply class other animals as friends or foes and respond according to these schisms. Living becomes easier.

"It's to win arguments." 

Human beings, I'm beginning to realise, are argumentative creatures. Some are fairly egoistic and tend to argue for the sake of showing off or exerting influence.

One simple way of dismissing perspectives that one doesn't agree with is to polarise them.

By casting rival theories as the antithetical opposites, it's easier to advance one's position. It's easier to sound sophisticated and intelligent (without actually being so). All one has to say is, "oh, you're being emotional, let's be logical," or,"you're a non-anthropocentrist and there is a fundamental flaw with all non-anthropocentric paradigms, therefore you're wrong."

Perhaps even this: "You want a greater social safety net? Do you want to be like the UK and become a nation in debt?"

Just exaggerate the issue to the opposite end of a spectrum and confuse the other party. What a clever, easy and dismissive way of responding.

"It's a law of nature."

Part of me wishes that the world isn't understood according to distinct black-and-white labels. Yes, there are polarised opposites in Nature. Between these opposites, however, lie an entire dynamic range. These nuances - the shades of grey and every colour in between - they create beauty, diversity. They make life worth living.

And the other part of me? It sympathises. It understands the human compulsion to simplify ideas, to exert oneself, to find order within disorder.

Perhaps this is all part of being human, wanting two different things at the same time. Hoping to grow up, gain access to more opportunities - yet, wanting to remain youthfully innocent. Hoping the world to be complex and challenging - yet, wanting to understand it readily with broad terms.

Perhaps we're all dynamic bundles of contractions that even we, ourselves could not label clearly. In many ways, this reflects the brilliance of life and living.

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