Via Basel: Contradictions of the Mind
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.