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Black and White

The Balance of Yang and Yin
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Black and White
What is an identity? How are you different from your next-door neighbor?.

What is an identity? How are you different from your next-door neighbor, your spouse, or that inconsiderate stranger who cut you off at a major intersection last week? Well, we look for defining differences in ourselves, such as "I wake up early," or "I vote Independent." These are just a couple of the countless qualifications we make constantly in our effort to maintain our sense of self.

I use the word "qualification" very consciously. On the one hand, no matter how alike you are to another, there exist differences between you such that you will seize upon them in order to distinguish yourself: "Yes, we both prefer mocha latte with triple cream, double fudge and exactly two sprinkles of cinnamon: but I like mine three degrees hotter!" Let's face it: you don't want to be exactly like someone else- you're YOU, by golly- so you take whatever you can get!

At the same time, one understands that any qualification is really just an arbitrary dividing line along a particular continuum (which is simply a quantification). Law students, for instance, can tell stories about how their professors lead them, through a series of seemingly innocuous queries, to reach preposterous statements; and, woe betide the student who protests that some line has been crossed, lest he be asked to explain the unexplainable. For how do we justify the lines we each draw? Ultimately, they're personal.

Now, this is not to say everything is acceptable and simply a matter of personal choice. No, for not only is each aspect of our lives interrelated with all others, making what we feel, say and do as much a matter of context as belief, but we also need certain expectations if we are to live within what we call a "civilized" society. We can't condone killers on the streets.

The most important thing to understand is that we seldom reach the end of any particular continuum (for if you hold more than one extreme position, what do you do in the event they come into conflict?), and that the differences we have with others stem from personal/arbitrary dividing lines we throw up- not out of a sense of orneriness, but out of the necessity of separating ourselves. Black and white might frame the issues we consider, but the picture lies inside the frame, in fine shades of gray.

Share your thoughts with us

Yang and yin - Beyond Black and White
I would like to invite you to share your thoughts and experiences through comments, messages, starting your own topics and, even, sending us your articles. What's your take of the balance of all things? Do you see the glass half-full or half-empty? Share and help everyone see and keep the balance!

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