Light || Dark
Good || Evil
Right || Wrong
Everything || Nothing
On 22-02-2022, a day I not-so-fondly decreed ‘Duality Day’ due to the number of 2s in the date, I have indeed been mentally duelling duality. (I’ve never really liked the number two.) In the last month, I’ve watched instances of ‘opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something’ devolve from blatant to flagrant. Watching events in Canada play out on the world stage has felt like watching a duel—and we know those never end well. As I related in another GRIT Series post, it has required that I and You’ve Got GRIT.
In my Seven Universal Laws course, we explore the Law of Polarity (actually, it’s my favourite law). It’s a complicated law—too complicated to explore fully here (register for my course and we’ll explore it fully together!). Embodied by the yin-yang symbol that represents dark-light, negative-positive, this law states that opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree. For instance, hot and cold are merely degrees of temperature—it is impossible to say exactly where “hot” ends and “cold” begins.
Duality and polarity are closely related; I’ve been contemplating the difference between them. In Chinese philosophy, the yin-yang symbol represents dark-light, negative-positive, which appears to speak to duality; however, the shape of the symbol itself demonstrates how apparently opposite or contrary forces intertwine within one whole (the circle)—they are interconnected. As stated in the Law of Polarity, they are indeed polar, not dual—being, in fact, complementary and interdependent, as represented by the dots within each side. Within the cold, always exists some hot; within the evil, always exists some good.
The Law of Polarity
Everything is dual.
Everything has poles.
Everything has its pair of opposites.
Like and unlike are the same.
Opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree.
All truths are but half-truths.
All paradoxes may be reconciled.
Why, then, is mentally duelling duality dangerous? Because we fall into it when we forget the interconnectedness of all things—we lose sight of the circle and see only two parallel lines, forever separate. Yet, humans easily fall into dualistic thinking. Here’s how I did.
For better or for worse, I tuned into the Canadian trucker protest more than I typically tune into current events—both energetically and mentally. I expressed my thoughts about the energies associated with the protest in my Grinding to a Halt post.
Mentally, I watched both raw footage and news coverage of the trucker convoy and protest. This exercise alone felt like duelling duality—it required significant GRIT. The disparity between coverage by the Canadian media versus coverage by media outside Canada shocked me (yet again). Several of my close international friends sent me links to videos that shone a bright light on the Canadian truckers, calling them freedom fighters, and positive examples that other countries aspired to follow. I also received personal video footage directly from Canadian friends who joined the Ottawa protest—friends who called it a “Protestival”—smiling, dancing, in a crowded scene that looked very much like Canada Day.
In direct opposition, I listened to government officials and the media refer to what appeared to me as a very peaceful protest as an ‘unlawful occupation’ and ‘siege,’ stating that they were ‘losing the battle’ for control and required additional ‘forces.’ As noted in my other post, as a student of rhetoric—the art of persuasion—I believe that the words we choose matter. These choice of words—words typically used in reference to invasion by a foreign power—appeared to have been selected for a purpose that disturbed me greatly. They speak to war, not peace, and they paved the way for enacting the Emergencies Act, formerly the War Measures Act, a federal law that gave the Canadian government additional powers during times of “war, invasion, and insurrection, real or apprehended”—an act historically enacted only when the security of the entire country is threatened by a foreign power.
In response, the truckers encouraged one another to “hold the line”—a phrase historically associated with military tactics, in which a line of soldiers defends a geographically strategic position against an enemy breakthrough.
For my own comfort, I reviewed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:
Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms
1 The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
2 Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
Again, as I discussed in my You’ve Got GRIT post, I applied Kenneth Burke’s Theory of Identification and the Scapegoat to the circumstances playing out around me; this theory states that people seek safety and identification based on coming together in opposition to a common enemy—this chosen enemy becomes the scapegoat for the group’s ills and grievances. Historically, we witnessed this theory play out in WWII when Hitler chose Jewish people as his scapegoat. But that would never happen today, right?
Did you know that the word ‘scapegoat’ actually refers to a goat? Note that, in the traditional sense, the scapegoat is not actually guilty—but is chosen arbitrarily to shoulder the burden of the guilt of others.
- a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.
- (in the Bible) a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it (Leviticus 16).
Creating a scapegoat requires reducing complex dynamics, situations, and arguments into simple, dualistic ones—a ‘black or white decision’—it’s either right or wrong, good or evil, dark or light, easy or hard, all or nothing. As humans struggling to find our way in the world around us, we naturally gravitate toward these clear divisions because they simplify decision-making and help us to ‘fit’ in.
Advertising plays upon this human desire by reducing complex ideas to dualistic ones. Advertisements create emotional or psychological discomfort or imbalance and then present the solution for correcting that imbalance; they create the fear that I have a bad problem, and then resolve the fear of that problem with a good product. The problem (which I may not have been aware I had until I watched the commercial) is bad; therefore, the product, which solves the problem, must necessarily be good. But, it’s a false argument—a false association. First, what if I don’t actually have the problem in the first place? Second, if I actually do have the problem, will the product necessarily solve it? The fact that the problem is bad, does not necessarily mean that the solution offered is good.
We can see this simplification into duality all around us. In sports, we choose a team and become emotionally invested in their success. In politics, we draw a stark line between liberal or conservative, democrat or republican. Through the pandemic, anyone who has questioned the safety of the Covid shot has been labelled an ‘anti-vaxxer;’ they are ‘bad’ because they disobey authority, and that disobedience endangers the group. But, does that make them evil? Well, it does if, in the words of my own Prime Minister, “They are extremists who don’t believe in science, they’re often misogynists, also often racists….” Misogynists and racists are not just bad, they’re really bad, maybe even evil. And voila—guilt by association—we have a scapegoat.
And then the PM applied the same guilt by association to the truckers—first, he labelled them as ‘anti-vaxxers,’ even though the leaders have clearly stated that they are protesting the mandate, not the shots; then, he intimated that they are white supremacists funded by terrorists. So, when the Canadian federal government enacts the Emergencies Act and uses it to threaten the livelihoods of these people by confiscating their vehicles, cancelling their insurance, and seizing the money in their business and personal bank accounts, and arresting them without bail, we’re okay with it…because they’re evil outliers. And then, when the government uses this opportunity to permanently increase their absolute powers, we simply accept it. The Emergencies Act and these new powers would never be used against us…because we’re in the group…right?
GRIT: Go Right Into Trepidation
Aligned with Gravity; GRIT grounds us down, breaking down negative connections.
“When I resolutely face my discomfort, my fear disintegrates—my resistance dissolves.”
PLUCK: Purposeful Luck
Aligned with Levity, PLUCK raises us up, building up positive connections.
“When I intently focus on my purpose, my luck aligns—my possibilities harmonize.”
I experienced this duality personally when I received a threatening email. Why would I receive such an email? Because one of my website clients attended the Ottawa protest with his business-branded truck and the footer of his website displays my business name and link with ‘website by.’ He’s been my client for over a decade; his political views have always been completely irrelevant to, and outside the realm of, our business relationship. Yet, someone with the last name ‘Frank’ (assumedly using a false name and temporary gmail account) emailed me to warn me that “anti-science = no business.” A stranger believed they were justified in threatening my ability to make a living simply based on my association with him.
When I next spoke to my client, he related openly that he went to Ottawa with his work trailer fully stocked with supplies to offer support to the truckers—he organized garbage removal, set up a free food table, and cooked burgers for anyone who wanted one, protestor, trucker, tourist, or resident—but not a white supremacist or anyone carrying a Nazi flag because he didn’t actually see any of those. He also told me how frustrated he felt watching a mainstream media reporter purposefully position herself in front of the pile of black garbage bags they were in the process of collecting and removing, to report on the ‘mounting garbage crisis’ being created by the protestors. I interpreted my client’s actions in Ottawa as peaceful and positive; I cannot say the same for that reporter or the person who emailed me.
I watched press conferences with the leaders of the Freedom Convoy, who spoke calmly and respectfully of the right for peaceful protest and the desire for open dialogue with our leaders—leaders who adamantly refused to speak with them, choosing to retreat from Ottawa instead. (Yes, I chose the word ‘retreat’ purposefully here.) The Freedom Convoy leaders included Tamara Lich, a petite, female mother and grandmother, musician and recent activist of Métis heritage from Medicine Hat—they arrested her and denied her bail instead.
At the same time, watching the leader of my country in live legislative debate through this conflict, quite frankly, disgusted me. His offensive language, his outright disrespect toward other members of parliament, and his adamant, downright rude refusal to even acknowledge, never mind answer, the important, relevant questions asked by the opposition, all horrified me. And stranger still, he acted like a puppet, incapable of actually responding to questions in his own words, instead repeating the same scripted response over and over, regardless of whether or not it actually fit the situation.
Watching my Prime Minister in parliament, I felt embarrassed to be Canadian. And when I watched international media channels call him out for the same transgressions, I felt ashamed that I had previously highly respected my Canadian Prime Minister. And I realized, again to my own shame, that I hadn’t respected him based on sincere investigation—in fact, I hadn’t respected him at all, I had idolized the idea of him, based on nostalgia for his father who led Canada as I was coming of age. The reality of this leader’s choice of words and actions has departed radically from my idealized, mythical persona of him—an archetype, not a person. Shame on me for forming an opinion based on emotionally-driven idealism rather than real insight.
I had reduced a complex political decision down to choosing simply based on who I identified as the ‘golden boy,’ ‘the ‘good guy’—a dualistic decision. And I now see so many decisions I made in the past from a place of simplified duality. I fully believed that one political wing was always good and the other bad; one news outlet consistently reliable and the other inconsistent and unreliable; some countries had the best interests of people at heart and others were against them. ‘Informed’ people agreed and anyone who disagreed was…misguided. Why? Because staying on the surface and picking a consistent side was way easier than digging deeply into the nitty-gritty details, critically assessing them, and independently deciding upon each one.
But, over the last few years, I have met more people whose opinions depart from these black-and-white assumptions. And I continue to see more and more examples that contradict my previous assumptions. The more blatant examples I see, and the more willing I become to listen to multiple opinions openly and without prejudice, the more I realize that people and situations are far too complex, far too multifaceted and vibrantly coloured to be broken down into stark black-and-white dualities.
In the dualistic perspective, two people may believe that they are standing at opposite ends of a straight line (perhaps preparing to draw their pistols in a duel), until we introduce a third perspective who rises high above them to see the whole picture—the line is actually a circle—and, if the two people walk far enough along it in opposite directions, they will eventually meet. From the dualistic perspective, all truths are but half-truths. But, from a higher perspective, everything is interconnected—the poles are neutralized. In this way, all paradoxes may be reconciled. This is the universal Law of Polarity.
The trucker protest has quickly dissolved into the background. Now, I am watching the same dualistic over-simplification play out within the Russia-Ukraine crisis. But, I’ve learned—it’s not black and white—it is a complicated, deeply-rooted situation based on very complex and likely subversive dynamics that are extremely difficult to ascertain because the messages we are receiving about it are being purposefully managed to manipulate us into blindly choosing a side. I will not. Yet again, I find myself declining to do what I’m told. So be it.
The trucker protest, and my government’s response to it, reminded me to accept negative emotions and to allow them to move through me rather than resisting them until they come Grinding to a Halt and get stuck. This experience has also reminded me (yet again) to rise above the dualistic playing field high enough to become the third-person observer who is able to see the situation differently, and to find neutrality knowing that we are all connected.
Stand Behind the Short Wall
“Stand behind the short wall” means if you’re into causes and battles, even if you’re righteous as hell, you’re helping to perpetuate causes and battles. Battling for the light, my dear friends, is as imbalanced as it is to battle for the dark, because there is no battle at all. Battling right now…it’s not your place on the planet. There are others who are doing it, and they’re doing a great job in perpetuating duality. And the fact is there’s no need to.
* Excerpt from The Dragon Book
Around the bend, our stone mason, Gil, works slowly and steadfastly on a dry stone wall that will replace one of the paddock fences. A solid, muscular man, he lifts a carefully selected stone up into place with ease and precision. These are Gil’s weeping walls; laying down each stone brings him peace, for he carried a heavy burden for too long.
Gil arrived as a giant named Goliath—the Goliath, you ask? Yes, the Goliath. He appeared at the edge of the clearing one day with an iron collar locked around his neck, connected by a heavy chain to a huge boulder enclosed within an iron cage. Before we saw him, we heard his footsteps and felt the vibration of the boulder thudding onto the earth again and again, creating shallow craters as he struggled forward.
That day, I followed the thunderous sound to the edge of the paddock, and watched Goliath slowly advance up our gravel lane. He would lift the boulder up against his chest and struggle forward with it four or five steps, then drop it in front of him again with a resounding thud. So heavy was this burden he carried.
Always the brave horse, Dragon followed me along the inside of the fence, as Peter galloped in the opposite direction toward the farthest shelter—oh, Peter, must you forever be a flight animal who never actually flies?
For several seconds, Dragon and I stood transfixed, staring at the approaching giant in awe mixed with dread—I don’t know about Dragon, but I had never seen a giant before.
Then, as Goliath strained to pick the boulder back up again, his large face contorted with the gargantuan effort, my heart filled with compassion for him. I leapt lightly over the fence and onto the path to meet him.
Dragon turned his head toward me and nickered. Internally, I heard the voice that sounds like mine state, “He carries the weight of all of the atrocities that the race of Giants has ever committed—a heavy, heavy burden. Yet, hidden within it is a great gift.”
A Gift? As I heard the words, images flashed within my head at lightning speed and all thought of a gift receded. I knew that, if I let it happen, the entire Akashic record of Giants would download to me in that instant—lifetimes of experiences combined to form the story of an entire race. A story in which, of course, I played a part—otherwise, he would not be here. And I began to feel rage build within me, for the Giants vibrated on the level of anger for far too long.
But, no, I would not experience it then—I had learned. My knees buckled under me as I reached the giant, and he and I both collapsed to the ground together. His head hit the earth heavily at my knees and his eyes rolled back into his head. The voice informed me again, “He has chosen exhaustion as his modus operandi.”
I gently closed his eyelids and then placed my left hand on his head, and my right hand on the gravel, digging my fingers into the dry dirt. Energy coursed through me, pulsing with power, heating my body, my skin to tingling, itching, burning. It’s just heat, I told myself, just heat. Breathe in the cool air, breathe deeply. Feel the cool earth. I am simply the conduit. The energy passed through me, and the earth, ever gracious, ever willing, received it, grounded it, dissolved it. This is alchemy. And then the buzzing dissipated, as quickly as it had started. My fingers felt cool again; my hand instinctively shifted from his head to his arm in a gesture of comfort.
A fresh wind cooled my shoulders, the warm sun displaced with shadow, as Dragon in his true form cleared the fence and us with one powerful thrust of his dragon wings. He headed high into the sky, as if to survey the situation from a higher perspective, and then spiralled back down to us. He landed facing me, with the heavy iron chain that still connected the giant to the boulder between us. Faster than I could fathom, one powerful wrench of Dragon’s long talons broke a single link of the chain and it fell apart.
The movement of the giant’s arm under my hand returned my focus to him as he changed before my eyes, fading to semi-transparent for an instant as his body condensed down to match the size of a tall man. Though still a giant at heart, this lighter, more limber body would serve him better here.
Helpers arrived with a stretcher. They gently lifted his head, now the size his neck had been, and slipped the iron collar up over it before rolling him gently onto the stretcher. His eyes remained closed. He required water, sustenance, and, most of all, rest.
As they carried him off to a soft bed, my focus returned to the boulder. For it too had shrunk down into a smooth oval stone that easily rolled out of its iron cage. I watched, perplexed, as Dragon nudged the stone with their nose, paused as if listening, and then grasped it in their strong talons and flew across the paddock with it.
I ducked between the fence rails and headed toward our camp in time to see Dragon deposit the stone gently into the centre of our fire pit. Peter also watched cowardly from within the shadow of the overhang of the shelter in the farthest corner.
Then, Dragon reared up high on their hind legs, thrust their wings outward, stretched their neck toward the stone and seared it with the brightest, hottest, fire I have ever seen come forth from Dragon’s mouth. The heat of the blast flushed my cheeks and neck red as I approached; the ground felt warm under the souls of my bare feet.
Dragon blinked his soft amber eyes at me and we both gazed at the stone as one crack, then two, travelled over its surface. And then, an outer crust fell away to reveal what looked like a large, dark, pearlescent egg. In truth, a dragon egg. Such a gift.