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The Impossible Binary World

Human beings are complex, layered, inconsistent, fragile, awe-inspiring, broken, and striving.

 

That’s just for starters. But here’s what we’re not: binary. Yes, no. Black, white. Right, wrong. Powerful, weak. Conservative, progressive.

 

When we simplify ourselves and others to one or the other, we will almost always get it wrong.

 

This isn’t to say we don’t, or can’t, have deeply held beliefs, concerns, values, and ideals. But it does mean that just one of these deeply held views is not 100% of who we are. For example, does the ideal of a rich, multicultural national fabric of inclusion AND a desire for national security and border protection have to be mutually exclusive? Binary?

 

Any time we pick an issue and support or reject others based on a binary variable – good or bad, like me or not like me, us or them – we are likely to miss the opportunity to make progress.

 

It’s an impossible standard to sustain and retain a national culture, a company culture, or a family culture based on the perfect alignment of ideals.

 

What if we found what was different about each other and became more curious about what led to those differences and started the conversation with “I find that really interesting…I haven’t seen it that way…what led you to feel so strongly about this issue?”

 

I’m going to give it a try this week. You?