Via Basel: Contradictions of the  Mind

Art by Ben Tolman

I am happy for lots of reasons, mostly personal.

I am unhappy for a variety of others, communal & global.

I love and accept people, family, friends, and others not so close.

I disagree and reject some of their attitudes & beliefs.

I am optimistic and hopeful at my core. 

I cannot help being pessimistic about humanity’s future.

I believe in the indomitable human spirit.

I am sorely disappointed in widespread ignorance and selfishness.

I believe Russia is the cruel aggressor in invading Ukraine.

I admire Russia’s great contributions to arts, literature, and music.

The list of seeming contradictions can go on and on. We all have the ability to hold in place two contradictory ideas in our minds, allowing some tension and still not going crazy or being hypocritical. A hypocrite is someone whose actions and stated beliefs don’t match. However, tension in the mind can lead to wise action later. For example, someone who cares about the environment and sustainability may still wish to travel widely, using fossil fuels, not yet modifying his behavior to match his beliefs, but, because he is able to hold two conflicting ideas in his mind, he may still change his actions in the future, as opposed to a person with similar desires of extensive and leisure travels but has not considered its impact or willfully ignores it. This one is not conflicted as such and is unlikely to change his behavior to mitigate effects of travel on the environment. 

A one-track mind can be dangerous. Entertaining opposites is in fact a healthy situation that allows one to be flexible and open in dealing with complex and unexpected circumstances. Duality in thinking may not be ideal but has the potential to  wise unified ultimate decision making.

We live today in a world of rigid fixed ideas, extreme positions aligned with negative emotions. What is needed is fluidity, openness, and an  ability to harbor diverse and contradictory ideas under one roof. Certainty is elusive and harmful. I am certain, however, that I cannot be certain of anything….except of course death and taxes.   

Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, writing, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, semi-retired, he is exploring new avenues in medicine, education, public speaking, and social engagement.

3 responses to “Via Basel: Contradictions of the  Mind”

  1. Thanks Basel for your thoughts about one’s “ability to harbor diverse and contradictory ideas under one roof.” Hooray for anyone who is not rigidly set on one idea alone. However, here is something to consider. I heard a news analyst propose “single issue voting” to achieve victory over the gun loving people who always “single issue vote” to keep any sensible gun control laws from passing. That may well be the only way to address the ongoing mass slaughtering of children in our country. That means voting for anyone who wants to change our gun laws no matter what else they may stand for. Make it a game changer and get assault weapons off the street and out of the schools. This is not the way I usually vote but the country is desperate to stop the killing of innocent people. In addition I propose that the media publish in large, bold typeface a list of names of those who oppose reforming our gun laws, and that includes anyone who is remaining silent about this issue, which really means they don’t support reform. Now that I think it these guys pretty muchj all belong to the same political party so that should make voting easy..

  2. kidanu birhanu says:

    I agree with Basel. We have contradictory ideas. Christianity is full of contradictions. The bible has contradicting ideas. I do not know enough about other religions. I think that is part of our survival mechanism. Sometimes depending on where you are on the totem pole our ideas may change. I suggest one read “Homo Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari

  3. Basel Al-Aswad says:

    Joe & Kidanu, thanks for your comments…always good to hear different perspective.

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