“Do not blame God for creating the tiger; be thankful He didn’t give it wings.” – Ethiopian proverb
The adage ‘opposites attract’ is used inherently to denote the harmony that exists between contradictory experiences. Everywhere we turn, there are fundamental contradictions around us. Their complementary presence allows us to grasp the exactness of what we are escaping from or heading into. Of course, we will always have some likes and dislikes about these conflicting experiences, as well as other impressions, but these are valued as insignificant in accordance with the dominating scale.
How can one think about the experience of sufficiency if one has no idea what scarcity is? The challenges associated with scarcity forces us to appreciate the goodness of sufficiency. Without the presence of such opposites, life would be monotonous and lived without will. We would have very little or no choice in things we do. The conflict between good and evil, pleasant and unpleasant, and other opposites is the condition of our thoughts that inspires us to choose one over the other. Our consciousness of reality hinges on the fundamental fact that the presence of two contradictory experiences allows us to make choices – choosing the better option in our opinions.
Opposites are simply the same thing presented in varying degrees. It is a force divided into two qualitatively differing activities. Their division disperses them in opposed directions and creates in them diverse phenomena. They appear very different in degrees but, in reality, they are identical in nature. It is the differing degrees which make us aware of when one or the other is in a particular essence. They are two magnets which when placed side by each side invoke repulsion because their likeness comes into play. But when their north and south meet, their differing degrees attract each other. The activity can be likened to half-forces striving to reunite themselves as one.
The presence of opposites inspires our thoughts to appreciate our environment. Displayed as contradictory realities, they alert our consciousness of choice. If you have a white piece of cloth, setting it against a black piece of cloth allows you to appreciate the value of white’s purity. At the same time, it gives us an understanding of the depth and power of blackness. The details of both are clarified and their brilliance intensifies when matched against each other.
The contrast points us toward the future. It is a future not principally focused upon what is upcoming, but rather on how we can create what ought to come. Our consciousness of the contradictions helps us gravitate toward the spectrum’s better end. It becomes an enabling notion that helps us move toward the light because we appreciate its brightness compared to the obscurity of darkness. And it helps to establish soundness in all our thoughts and aspirations concerning what choices and decisions we make.
It is no secret that the differing degrees of opposites sometimes drive us into painful conflicts, but these help to build our sensibilities and sensitivities. If we simply restrict ourselves to appreciating one side of the story – for example, the positives of a situation – we become vulnerable to the negatives. Our ability to appreciate decreases because the contradictory experience is blanketed and our senses lose sharpness. Our sensitivity to good, to truth and beauty thus become flawed… for there is nothing to compare them with.
We can take a cue from the fact that the highest forms of human striving are those which have been exposed to the greatest degree of differences. For example, it takes the presence of sinners to appreciate saints. The presence of contradictions enables us to do justice to the fullness of life. We are drawn to opposites whenever we must make choices. The polarity provides us with the action and reaction in our spiral of growth and evolution; whether from the individual or societal perspective.
It is a movement that depends on a continual shifting between differing experiences as we strive to attain equilibrium. The shifting enables us to identify the optimum range for creativity and innovation. It also keeps us on our toes and positioned within those changing boundaries to prevent decay or deterioration. It is an inner-assimilation that promotes the instinctual activity of desire and aspiration.
Opposite experiences are useful, and we must seek them instead of avoiding them. The contradictory situations unconsciously empower us to become creative. We know that the action of one experience begets an equal reaction but a totally different experience – more often, an unpleasant one. We thus find ourselves coming up with innovative ways of keeping ourselves in the better experience while being aware of the differing other. That is why we must strive to remain conscious of opposites every time. It is like being aware of the things we prefer to do under the cover of darkness, but striving to live decently as people are expected to do in the daytime.
Kodwo Brumpon is a partner at Brumpon & Kobla Ltd., a forward-thinking Pan African management consultancy and social impact firm driven by data analytics, with a focus on understanding the extraordinary potential and needs of organisations and businesses to help them cultivate synergies which catapult them into their strategic growth and certify their sustainability.
Comments, suggestions and requests for talks and training should be sent to him at kodwo@brumponand kobla.com