When we view the an issue as binary, when we draw a hard line, when we make proclamations, several thing happen:
- We lock ourselves (and everyone else) into a position.
- We ignore/discount the humanity of everyone involved.
- As a result, we make change impossible.
If we want change to happen, we have to allow breaking space into the situation. Black and white, good and evil, yes and no, don’t allow for change. Shades of grey, nuance, flexibility – these allow for change.
The model of justice we find in Norway or in parts of New Zealand are models of justice predicated on rehabilitation. They acknowledge the humanity of ALL involved parties. They are geared toward eventually bringing the offender back into the fold of the community. The rates of recidivism are much lower, and the community becomes stronger as a result.
If I take a binary stance on something, I have basically made an undesirable situation incapable of change. I am reinforcing the thing I do not want. I tighten the knot.
When I ask every morning for help in unraveling the knot tied by slavery, patriarchy, and oppression, I have to allow for some slack in that line, or all I’m doing is tightening the knot. I have to see humanity in every human being, or I turn them into static, unchanging archetypes.
A movement that provides an alternative model to binary thinking is Restorative Justice. It is interesting that, when I try to introduce the concepts to many Americans, there is a knee jerk, negative reaction. People actually recoil from the idea, which leads me to believe that they have an ego attachment to the binary model of the Universe, and the idea of allowing for the humanity of all involved threatens that paradigm. They are literally locking themselves further into their own trauma, rather than allowing for a new idea.
How about you? Are you willing to create space for change? Do you want to unlock your reality? What ego investments are you willing to sacrifice to create a new reality?