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This Not That

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

I wrote on Monday about how changing my attitude toward death has helped me live a more fulfilling life. I would like to extend that line of thinking to judgment today.

Yesterday, a friend sent me a YouTube link to a sermon by a popular Christian pastor. His emphasis on the dichotomy between light and darkness caught my attention as I watched.

That's not uncommon for a Christian sermon. Jesus is often referred to as the Light of Life who leads us out of the darkness in Christian messages. But isn't it just a metaphor? Does that distinction really correspond with reality beyond some evolutionary value associated with the dangers of the dark because you can't see what is hiding there? Does the distinction really exist, or does it serve to make judgments unnecessarily and problematically?

The problem stems from the "this not that" approach to making sense of things I identified in my early articles. Whenever we mix value judgments with reality evaluation, the result can be similar to our desire to escape death. A real problem is trying to ignore things that are unpleasant and de-emphasize their contribution to the overall picture of reality.

This is not a political blog but think about some of the undesirable characteristics of political life and behavior, not just among politicians but also among the general population. It is overflowing with disagreement, and not just any disagreement, but intense, dichotomous disagreement. People tend to divide into black and white partisan camps for a variety of reasons, not just political ones. That's how we think -- this not that.

Going forward, I will continue to argue for the non-self, because what fundamentally shapes our thinking more than the division between self and other? This is who I am, not that. The instinct to distinguish between things creates oppositional thinking. It really holds us back from what is possible.

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