The Illusion of Duality

The other day, my husband and I were discussing politics. Particularly, we were discussing a specific political action that had happened earlier in the week and it made my blood boil.

\”This is why I can\’t ever really be a Republican!\” I cried, exasperatedly. \”I just fundamentally do not believe that business are the end all be all entities that will save the world. I just don\’t. But at the same time, I can never really be a Democrat either because the government isn\’t exactly the most effective and efficient entity either.\”

I, personally, have tended to vote 3rd party in the past. A decision that makes people angry, almost angrier than people who don\’t vote at all.

\”Why do you vote third party?\” Evan asked me. \”Honestly, so I can sleep better at night.\” I replied.
\”So, you\’re being selfish…..You\’re just throwing away your vote.\” \”Well no, maybe if enough people vote third party it won\’t be a dual system anymore.\” \”That\’s unrealistic.\”

It\’s a conversation that is perfectly personified by this Simpsons scene:


In truth, politically, I feel stuck in the middle. I\’m politically moderate in a society where I am pressured to choose sides. Being in the middle is conceived as a worse sin than choosing the wrong side. I guess the idea is that you should believe in something strongly, even if it\’s wrong. You will go down with your ship. Never give up. Never compromise. Never surrender. All of those qualities are attribute to weakness. You cannot pick and choose. Being a cafeteria _______ (democrat, Catholic, feminist, etc…..pick your favorite set of beliefs and values) is looked upon with the utmost disdain. Those people aren\’t really ______. They pick and choose only certain aspects of this or that which in the minds of extremists, is about the worst thing that you can ever do. Period.

There\’s a duality at play. You are either this or that. You are either black or white. You are either male or female. You are either a democrat or a republican. You are either gay or straight. You are either ______ or ______. Yes or no. Right or wrong. All in or all out. On or Off. 0 or 1.

There is nothing else, society yells at us, pounding it into our brains so that we believe it. Yet, there is something else. There has to be something else because the essence, the God, who flows through all life, who flows through the laws of the universe preaches a different story. There are not just 2 colors in the rainbow.

I\’m currently reading the Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson and they present an idea that I think so often is overlooked, especially in Western thought. Many of the world religions don\’t operate in terms of duality, rather they operate in terms of trinity. The rule of 3. In Christianity it is symbolized in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If you want to be more esoteric, perhaps, the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier. The Buddhists talk of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Hindus have Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. The Schoenstatt movement in Catholicism has the graces of Home, Inner Transformation, and Apostolic Zeal. Even on an atomic level you have protons, neutrons and electrons. Heck, even as a small child you knew that it took 3 strikes on Bowser to get back the princess.

When I first learned about the enneagram, I learned it as a system of 9 personality types. The number 9 was completely arbitrary to me. It could have just as easily been 4 or 7 or 26. It had no inherent meaning that it was 9. 3 x 3. As I study more and more about the system, however, I come to notice that it isn\’t really 9 at all it is 3 sets of 3. The triads are the root, the underlying cause. The thinking, the feeling and the doing. Those three permeate all the personalities to the point that it would be difficult if not impossible to understand you personality type without recognizing the triad within it resides. Within each triad, each type represents an overexpression, underexpression or a complete detachment from the triad. It\’s not really 9. It\’s really just 3, 3 ways.

So why, pray tell, do we insist on perpetuating duality when things are so evidently not a duality? The idea of duality is an illusion and yet it seems to be a constant presence that truly does serve to isolate and alienate those who don\’t fit in with the prescribed dual nature of things. It ultimately shuts us out from experience the varied and true richenss of the world around us, with it\’s many colors, many beliefs, many ideas. Why is being a cafeteria Catholic so unforgivably wrong when it is our nature to be attracted to particular issues over others. Can a person not find truth and wisdom in parts of all religion that is ultimately enlightening and brings one closer to God? Must we really all be stuck in the all or nothing mentality of dogma or political rhetoric? Do you ever wonder how much richer and more meaningful are lives could be if our ideas, passions and values were shaped from a variety of sources that could be in essence in complete communion with the way God created each of us individually?

I don\’t really have an answer to these questions, just food for thought. Right now, to me it all seems like an illusion to pit us against one another. To have us fighting each other to distract us from the real problems at hand. I can think of no more effective way for Evil to destroy us than by inciting us to destroy ourselves.


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