What if the opposition is not a corruptive evil, but a complementary and counterbalancing force that is both necessary and productive?
What if we could step back and view ourselves in the context of an undulating system that surges and retreats to maintain a vital and eternal equilibrium?
Such a conception would require us to remove ourselves from our subjective particularities and withdraw to a more objective vantage. We would see ourselves as a fragment of a larger aggregate and a moment in a timeless span.
Chinese philosophers talk of yin and yang. Yogis talk of chakras. Kabbalists speak of the sephirot. All of these systems discuss varying and countervailing energies that interact and interplay to maintain a holistic balance.
Yin and Yang do not battle each other. They dance. They exercise. They push and pull, not to topple the other, but to strengthen the composite which they combine to create and maintain. They need each other. They complement and complete each other. The one alone is deficient, alienated, even dangerous. Derangement comes from a lack of equilibrium. Unchecked, we veer too far in one direction. We yearn to be pulled back to the center.
Imagine the relief, and release, of not despising and assaulting the opposition. Consider the cost of energy expended on attack and defense. Envision a dynamic of mutual incorporation and civil give and take that does not imply a forfeit of principles or an acquiescence to harm, but rather the countering of opposition with composure; the recognition of the value and necessity of conflicting perspective; the simultaneous acknowledgement and pursuit of one’s own task in keeping opposition in check.
The most effective, revolutionary, and inspiring leaders have been those who have resisted and persisted with this type of composed resolve. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa – each of them has accepted his/her role in the choreography. They have leaned against their respective conflicts and antagonists with strength and poise in the awareness that the tides are inevitable. They roll in and they roll out.
It is not rage and impatience that shape the contours of history, it is erosion and sedimentation, global and glacial processes that will prevail long beyond the vicissitudes of tyrants, bigots, and hysteria.
We can resolve the conflict and controversy in America when we regroup and remind ourselves that we are a complex and powerful composite. There is no yin without yang, no liberalism without conservatism and vice versa.
To the extent that we attempt to polarize and pull away from those who differ, we will sacrifice our integrity and durability. To the extent that we remain cognizant of our interdependence, our commonality, and the vital interplay of our diversity, we will be able to remain, as our founders envisioned, One Nation, indivisible.