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The Yin and Yang of Politics

Large ying yang symbol

More often than not, we are wrong about our assumptions. Nature, however, is always correct. This is a major theme in the Tao te Ching and I Ching.

The opposing energy of Yin and Yang work together to establishe balance in nature. So what can these principles teach us about the political polarizations erupting all over the world?

The words Yin and Yang describe opposite elements in nature such as hot and cold or light and dark. Yin is receptive, nurturing and represents winter, night and gestation. Yang is the outward expression of power, the day, sunlight and actualized form. We dream in Yin and are empowered in Yang. But these are two variations of the same thing.

Hot and cold or light and dark are not opposites, they are complimentary. You cannot know light without having experienced the dark, and cannot feel cold unless you have felt hot. Each is dependant upon the other. Somewhere in the middle ground is comfort and clarity.

Understanding how Yin and Yang work together in nature can help us to understand where crisis is leading us.

Nature avoids extremes through balance of Yin and Yang.

“The high, it brings down so that the low is lifted up.” This can describe hot and cold pressure systems, but economically speaking, we might say those on high want to go even higher, while those below seek only to be lifted up. Nature would teach us that we shouldn’t rush to judgment to support or condemn either approach.

The circle that is so familiar as Yin and Yang is a snapshot of how pressure systems attract each other in a swirling dance that becomes wind. After the winds of change, the earth is returned to balance and the optimal temperatures for life. It happens naturally.

The dark portion is like the night with one small circle of light. The white portion is like the day with one small portion of night. The symbol reminds us that each contains the seeds of the other and it is always day and night somewhere on the earth.

Any extreme in either direction will bring about the expression of the other.

A government can have power, but not work for the people.

The people can be carried, but they may become weak.

Our political systems are polarized over the best way to govern people. We might call Democrat initiatives Yin because they nurture, support, lift up the downtrodden and protect the environment. Republicans may appear as Yang, seeking to protect the power of the individual, corporations and ensuring that businesses and governments thrive.

Can both sides be correct?

Nature teaches us that balance will be achieved. Just like extreme weather phenomena, the crisis is just the face of emerging balance. The fact that a discussion is taking place is a good thing.

Checks and Balances

This is the essence of the checks and balances that were written into the US constitution, which separate portions of the government. It is achieved through the House of Lords and House of Commons in the UK Parliament.

Any assertion of righteousness from one side is always going to bring out defensiveness from the other. The separation of power was not devised to lead to crisis, but to ensure peace. Even without established codes and lawas, balance is the basic principle of life.

Often peace must first ride on the back of crisis.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

The Liberals can believe they have open minds, while judging Conservatives as being unenlightened. The Conservatives may thwart Democratic goodwill as a form of socialism, while calling themselves Christians.

Can both sides be wrong?

While we focus on our differences, we become a part of the extreme thinking that perpetuates a lack of balance. We are gathered together again in crisis because nature does not support these extremes, and doesn't express prejudice or bias. These are human qualities that lead to their own undoing.

All people measure beauty
against what they know to be ugliness.
All announce that good is good
only because they reject what they think is bad.

Therefore, something and nothing produce each other.

Obama Woke Speech

At a summit in Chicago, Obama spoke about the need to balance extremes of thinking: “One danger I see among young people, particularly on college campuses… accelerated by social media…There is this sense sometimes the way of ‘me making change’ is to be as judgmental as possible about other people and that’s enough…Like, if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right, or use the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself. ‘Cuz man, did you see how woke I was? I called you out!’”

He was addressing the ‘cancel culture’ spawned by the ‘me too’ or politically correct movements that have destroyed careers. A janitor was fired because he had used a racial slur to tell a student not to call him that word. A congresswoman was forced to leave office because of an affair that occurred prior to taking office. There is probably not one person on the planet who hasn’t used poor judgment at one point in their life.

He was also addressing how a person or group of people can have independent worldviews and yet, believe everyone else should think the same way.

It is called ‘cancel culture’ because when the person or brand is called out – they can be boycotted or removed. “This idea of purity, and you’re never compromised, and you’re politically woke, and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly…The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.”

Something and nothing produce each other.

Something and nothing produce each other because the void or unknown spawns its own existence. What we can’t understand is always given more power because of our fear of it. As our Shadow projected onto 'the Other', we eventually discover the quality as our unlived Self.

All of this something we call life — came from the nothingness of the Big Bang. The idea that something may occur out of a fear of nothingness can ignite the fire of huge revolutions.

We spend the day finger wagging. But we sleep and dream the same dreams.

We all want the same freedoms.

The freedom to give others the same freedoms.

What would happen if we came together to learn more about the ways we may be wrong, rather than defending how we are right?

In the Yin and Yang symbol, we are reminded that like black and white – nature has designed us to be different. But each holds a tiny circle of the other in its body. This means we might honor and not be threatened by the ideas and beliefs of those around us.

If we look at nature, we see societies based on the survival of the strong just as much as we see complex societies based on supporting the whole.

The new normal.

Technology is the driver of instant information whether or not it is reliable information. It has enabled us to see more of what had remained hidden in previous times. It makes us more vocal, allowing for instant reactions without actually becoming part of the solution.

It has changed our lives in a way that everyday we are introduced to the 'new normal.' We may have no choice but to arrive at the intersection between old beliefs and where technology has led us.

Nature goes two ways at once.

The planets move through the universe while spinning on their axis. One trajectory moves forward while the other pulls back. Water and wind move independently and with completely different natures, but work together to even out extremes in temperature. Thunder and lightning are born of the same source, have a different form of expression and yet do not exist without the other.

Going two ways at once is how nature seeks harmony while honoring individual differences. The movement of the planets, jet streams, wind and weather are a snapshot of the way everything is connected to ensure the well being of this planet.

Nature and life are always changing. Add "rrrr" or anger to evolution and it becomes revolution. Evolution takes time, but revolution demands instant and radical change. Life seems to have a predisposition for circles. This means change comes, but not without a back and forth motion.

Beyond the anger is the voice of the oppressed. Beyond righteousness is the voice of fear. Like thunder and lightning, the light of a new way is always followed by the deep barking of the establishment. The lightning heats up the atmosphere. The rapid expansion actually creates a sonic boom. It all happened too fast. Once the light is gone, the air collapses back on itself.

Did anything change?

Lightning actually purifies the atmosphere of pollutants and creates ozone. Both Democrats and Republicans accuse the other of living in the Ozone Layer. Maybe we have forgotten the importance of this part of the atmosphere in protecting and unifying us. Yes, being 'out there' can actually provide us with a breath of fresh air.

It is better not to have assumptions.

When we have forgotten how to listen and do not attempt to understand each other's needs, life transforms from a place of joy into a place of crisis.

A gusty wind and downpour cannot last all day.

The power play we see in politics is like a tug of war and each side will be pulled closer to a center that will not be like what they've known before. Nature may be guiding us toward a center where all are empowered, while we nurture each other, and the world in which we live.

If you would set something up – you must first tear it down.

If you would tear something down – you must first set it up.

Such is the round way of things.

During this season of transformation, find comfort in knowing change is an inevitable and purifying part of life. Find joy in remaining in that field out beyond ideas of right and wrong.

The Yin and Yang of politics is a natural phenomenon. It is only our fear of change that makes us feel like we are in crisis.