The Law Of Opposites
Article ID: 10110
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: September 18th. 2005
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Human nature is, many times, like that of a magnet. We are drawn towards our opposite and repelled by our similar. While not ignoring the truth that we also yearn to be with like-minded individuals and to feel a part of a whole, I feel the magnetic appeal of opposites is what has inspired mankind for our total existence. Interfaith relationships support this theory. We tend to seek out that which is different to us in our search of “the unknown, ” to fulfill the needs which likeness cannot. This is The Law of Opposites.
My religious background, and that of my family and friends, is quite diverse. My parents were both raised Christian (even though they rarely practiced), and eventually found their way to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, while I follow a Pagan path. My grandparents come from families of Southern Baptist and Pentecostal. My husband is Catholic. My best friend is Jewish. My brother-in-law is Muslim. I have Pagan friends, and Buddhist acquaintances. I have had friends that practiced Santeria, Wicca, as well as Seventh Day Adventism. What makes all of these relationships possible is mutual respect for the other’s beliefs. Without this, there is no chance for an interfaith relationship, whether platonic in nature or romantic.
I am not so naďve as to believe that these differences never cause conflict. It is always a struggle, and one must always decide if the relationship is worth the struggle. Some of my family (and acquaintances) know of my beliefs and practices, while others do not. I pick and choose who and when to tell, because I believe spirituality is a personal matter that doesn’t have to be shouted from the rooftops. I am in no way ashamed of my beliefs, however I do feel that sometimes, with some people, it is not worth the effort or energy to explain that I am not a Satanist, I’m not going to burn in hell, I don’t sacrifice kitties or babies, and so on. There are times that it does cause tension in the relationships with people that do know, usually when one of us is trying to “convince” the other of our view. This is when the old adage of “agree to disagree” needs to be heeded. Everyone must understand that just because it makes sense to you, doesn’t mean it makes sense to everyone else. Just because it feels right in your heart, doesn’t make it right for everyone else. There is no “right way” where spirituality or religion is concerned. It is not a matter of math or science. There is no “scientific proof.” It is elusive, intangible. It is what it is.
The definition of “faith” is: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. “Belief” is mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something (dictionary.com). Using these definitions, there is no way to label any faith or belief as refutable. This is where, I believe, many of the arguments in interfaith relationships begin: One person trying to discredit the others beliefs with their version of “the truth.” There is no “common truth, ” only our own interpretation of truth.
Though there is no “common truth, ” there is however, “common ground.” This is the most sacred space in an interfaith relationship. For instance, my husband and I both agree there is a power greater than us. We both agree that the spirit, or soul, lives on after physical death. We may have different specifics, but the base idea is the same. It has taken years for us to get to our “common ground, ” and still there is conflict at times when practices of our beliefs are involved. However, I think we both understand that it is a matter of heart and soul for each individual, and not a matter of submission and surrender.
Both heart and mind must be open in order to cultivate any relationship, but more so when there is a great difference in such a deeply intimate subject. Respect for the other’s beliefs and values is of utmost importance. And the reminder that there is always something to be learned from our differences. If we weren’t here to learn from (and tolerate) each other’s differences, we would all be one color, one race, and one gender. There would be one political party, one religion, one type of food, one viewpoint in the media, one ambition, and one goal. The list goes on and on. I’m getting bored just thinking about the limited possibilities.
The only “One” there is, is this: There Are Many Paths Leading To One. No matter what religious or spiritual belief you hold, we are all trying to get to the same place: The Place of Knowledge and Understanding. We all want to know why we are here, what our purpose is, what happens when we die. That is what religion is - our quest for the answers. The beauty of interfaith relationships is that we expose ourselves to a myriad of possibilities to those answers that we may have never thought of. We dispel misconceptions about one another and find our common ground.
The Law of Opposites provides for us the gray area in which to suspend our own judgments and open ourselves up to the possibilities and create that common ground. A magnet can be used to express this thought. As an analogy, place two magnets with the same pole (end) facing each other. There is an area of resistance between the two poles in which an object can be suspended. This is the gray area. Now flip one magnet to its opposite end, and watch how quickly the magnets attract each other. The object in the middle doesn’t matter. The magnets will still try to come together. This is much the same way we as humans work. We seek to find that which is different to balance out the whole. We must experience “night” to know what “day” is. We must experience “hurt” to know what “joy” feels like. And we must experience others beliefs to either strengthen, or change, our own.
Copyright: Please do not copy or publish this essay without express consent of the author. Shawnee Kircher 2005
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