Quick Takes

Meetings of Opposites

Quick Takes

The past – not dead; not even past, said William Faulkner – is present in our lives as a force-field which governs our interactions.  The past is the track we are impelled by our common culture to follow.  Can we get outside our pasts, the experiences which drive our suspicions and our grievances?

  Building a railroad is a different enterprise than riding the already-laid tracks.  We are desperate to be laying the track. Our job after Charlottesville – our philosophical and political and moral job – is to lay the track on which opposites may travel toward meeting.

The common ground of Meeting is not in the middle;  it is a different space altogether.  On the same  streets, either we fight, Us-Against-Them – as Opposites – or we create this other way of being together:  Meeting. 

Common ground is a matter of living together, not of agreement in opinions. Civility is not the cause of common ground, but the effect.

Meetings of Opposites is the scaffolding for common ground.

An idea is more real to us than a material object seen by the eye.  (Plato)

The optical illusion that we’re living in today is called Us-Against-Them:

What else is there?

Meetings of Opposites produces the actual experience of common ground among people whose opinions or positions are irreconcilable.

          Three components:

  • Investigate the nature of visual perception to reveal the mechanism which produces optical illusions.
  • Examine current discourse among us – like the statues controversy in Charlottesville, or any online comment section – to show the same mechanism at work. 
  • Participate in a series of exercises adapted from Outward Bound, to experi-ence a different way of being together than perception allows and enforces.

Recognition of our perceptual common ground, followed by the personal recognition exercises, produces affective depolarization, a different world for us to live into together.

Each session of 2 ½ hours includes all three components.  When it’s safe, I’ll bring the workshop anywhere in the country without charge.

Henry McHenry Jr. Charlottesville, Virginia