Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SeeSaw Truth and Extremities

I took a personality test one time. The preliminary questionnaire consisted of over 200 questions designed to target my basic personality temperament. There results were presented as four personality types displayed on a 2 x 2 chart. The general population does not typically fit solely into only category, so results are given with a dominant personality type and a “sub-personality” type. These two types are supposed to be aligned on the chart adjacent to each other—either side-by-side or one on-top of the other. My two strongest personalities were diagonal. Go figure. Anyhow, I thought I was just “special” or “more balanced,” but when I somewhat proudly asked my professor the significance of this phenomenon, she did not hesitate to inform me that this result pattern was indicative of bipolar tendencies. Awesome.

Well, I mention this anecdote to illustrate a struggle I have battled for as long as I can remember practicing analytical thought. Two philosophers could entertain two “completely” contrasting views on metaphysics or the substance of life, yet I somehow find truth in both. I do not see myself as a judge who would stand in the middle of two arguments and rule, nor do I consider myself a pluralist, always trying to find a “happy medium” and reconcile differences. I feel that I am quite passionate and convicted, yet I was bothered by the fact that I could never securely stand on one extreme of an argument and believe full-heartedly that I possessed the only right answer. But I also have never felt comfortable sitting on the fence in the middle, between two arguments where neither seems fully right. I saw Truth as being larger than myself and my convictions.

I began to visualize Truth on a spectrum, just like any two opposing points could be viewed. Take, for example, Democrats and Republicans. On a spectrum, the most liberal Democrats would be on the far left, and the most conservative Republicans could be easily visualized to the far right, with the moderates falling along the continuum between the two extremes. The illustration works the same with Truth. One belief or conviction would be represented on one side of the continuum, while the other is represented at the opposing end.

Well, this imagery helped me visualize my problem, yet I still could not place myself at any given point on the line. I began to envision myself outside of this line and what real life implications this analogy would have on my belief system if I could be an outlier beyond the dimension of the line.

For me, Truth is synonymous with God. My God is Truth and Truth is my God. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that when I recognized God in contrasting aspects of the same argument, I was seeing how somehow God is beyond our earthly arguments. He is both my understanding and someone else’s. In every good-hearted conviction, there is a piece of God, although inevitably misunderstood and misinterpreted, yet who ever claimed to fully understand God anyhow.

I then drew the mental image of a seesaw. The seesaw is teetering as I am jumping from one side of the plank to the other, working desperately to make the seesaw move in rhythm and begin to totter, so I can rest. I am unable on my own to sit on one side of the seesaw and make it go both up and down. I must go to the opposing seat and sit in it to accomplish any semblance of regular seesaw play motion. However, God is beyond the confines of this physical and mental world. He can somehow sit on both ends of the seesaw and make the plank sway up and down in a steady motion.

The implications of this image are staggering because the image depicts our pitiful attempts to understand reality and our comical convictions that we hold so strongly to. In the realm of metaphysics, determinism versus freewill, perhaps the reality is that our future is determined, yet we still posses dominion over our choices. To our brains, these two extremes are mutually exclusive, yet perhaps to God, it is as easy as sitting on both ends of a seesaw.

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