Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Yin and Yang

I've got a lot to be thankful for. Health, family, friends. An occupation that lets me live comfortably. And, I live in a country that has a high standard of living and that, despite inroads, allows me to live as I will for the most part.

But, as I grow older, I'm more and more struck by the fact that I don't have much control over the things I've just listed, except at a personal level. I can maintain and improve my health and my relationships with family and friends. Though I have control over my law practice, if the economy really crashes, I'm down the tubes with it. And here's the thing, there isn't a damn thing I can do to prevent that.

Nor can I stop the inroads on the freedom of action I enjoy. I also have no control over the disparity between the life I live and the lives of many, many people around the country and around the world. My comfortable and relatively free life and their struggle to eat enough to live a life that has nowhere near the freedoms I enjoy.

History teaches that it's always been this way, haves and have-nots. Augustine made a nice reputation telling the latter group that they would get theirs down the road. Some would say that the free markets of economy and ideas will over time correct the imbalances. The economic part hasn't done too well lately. The ideas part doesn't seem to be going well in North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and a score of other places around the world.

Others would say that the haves need be regulated and taxed to distribute wealth to those that don't have the means to live a decent life. Interestingly, these people, to my knowledge, don't deal in the problem of repression of ideas. Perhaps they think if everyone has enough to eat people will quit trying to make others think and act as they do. Or, maybe that's a problem for down the road to their mind – first things first. And of course, their view isn't going to work either.

I’m not sure which view I’m talking about is yin and which is yang, or whether the dichotomy I feel is properly described by the phrase. Wikipedia says “yin and yang are complementary opposites within a greater whole. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, which constantly interact, never existing in absolute stasis.” I do know that I’m growing more pessimistic that anything good is going to happen anytime soon, for me with my relatively privileged life or for those many that are just getting by.

Maybe I should return to what I said at the start. I can control my local life, family and friends. And by control, I mean that I can be a good family member and a good friend. Those at the other end of the economic and freedom scale, with no ability to control anything, can perhaps only do the same. Our local lives will wax and wane never achieving stasis in the greater sense; but, finding equilibrium where we are and how we are. For that, should we give thanks? I’m going to.


Debo Blue said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Dave.

Lifehiker said...

Yeah, man. We humans think we are so darn smart, but we sure don't know how to make it all work. Life sucks for far too many people. We need the biggest paradyme shift in history, but we don't know what it is, yet. Let's hope the "yet" comes soon.

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving, Dave.

Jeni said...

Christ said "The poor you will always have with you." and that is just as true today as it was 2000 years ago too. My life, my situation, economics, etc., are way different than yours, certainly -and yet, though some would judge and say it's poverty, the biggest poverty many of us experience is not necessarily how much money we have or food on the table, etc., but in our attitudes towards others. And, I think the latter part of your post addressed that aspect. I don't necessarily want the wealthy to "fund" my life but I would like to see a way wherein wages for those in the bottom tier would be a bit more in line with those in the "haves" column. How to achieve that -I have no answers there. Hope you enjoyed the holiday though -I know I sure did here! At least, my family and I are still much more fortunate than many, many others in that we do have adequate food and a roof over our heads too. (Getting money for fuel oil to heat the place is a bit of a problem from time to time but even that has a way of working itself out -eventually!)
Peace -and keep on thinking of ways to live your life to the fullest in a way that is also still beneficial to society as a whole -can't do any more than that, can we?