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Monday, April 25, 2022

Aristotle and Me

This morning I awoke thinking of Aristotle's Golden Mean - live neither too far to the right nor too far to the left, but walk the Golden Mean. Extremes lead to dark and unhappy places. Being off balance is not a positive thing.

Then I thought of Paul's comment of looking through the glass darkly, and then face to face. The glass is darkened and distorted partially by extreme biases, closed minds, the my way or the highway mentality.

Extreme points of view held by the extreme right or the extreme left produce the same results - violence, hostility, anger, alienation, paranoia, judgments, damnation of others not in one's extreme group, and never peace and happiness. Extremes are the dark glass of no clarity, distortions, and falsity.

How does one get back to the Golden Mean, if we find ourselves out on the extreme limb. I think we have to first examine ourselves. I often think of Thoreau's words, An unexamined life is not worth living. I agree, and I notice for those out in the extreme regions of life, it is very difficult to get them to honestly examine themselves and their situations and positions. I suggest asking oneself some questions such as:

  • Do I usually/often take the position that those who do not agree with me are in some way dumb, bad, perverse, totally wrong, even dangerous? 
  • Am I sure that I am always right?
  •  Do I get angry/irritated when others speak from some other point of view?
  • Am I ever able to have a calm and civil discussion with someone who sees things far differently than me?
  • Can I entertain the thought that it might be at least interesting to hear the other's point of view?
  • Am I happy, at peace, joyful, meeting each person, each moment with love, curiosity and acceptance?
  • Do I have friends of divergent points of view, accepting their right to see through their glass without angrily trying to make them look out of my glass or trying to shut them up?
These, and other such questions, can open at least a tiny spark of light to begin a more wholesome and balanced approach to life.

As for me, I find it absolutely fascinating to learn about other people, other ideas, other ways. If my current understandings are valid, nothing disturbs them. BUT, if I hold false ideas, misunderstandings, etc, I want to know and let them go. I know that the Divine is Infinite, so I know that I can never know all. I can keep growing in knowledge and understanding only if I do not hold fanatically to any one thing.

In this moment of history, I see far too many who have veered off to the far right or far left, and are causing unnecessary upheavals all over the place. There is nothing to fear from honest debate. There is a great deal to fear from extremes of the closed minded. Let us get back to the Golden Mean. It might just restore and save us all.

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