It happens all the time: people and problems split into opposing camps, whether the conflict is internal, between partners, in a family or—as we know all too well—between political parties. When positions become polarized conflict ensues, whether between mind and body, partners and families, or value systems and religious affiliations. What makes it possible to reach across the chasm between entrenched extremes? The Jungian concept of holding the tension of the opposites allows energy, like electricity, to flow between both poles; each can have its full say. Instead of remaining mired in fixity or moral judgment, curiosity may open the way for a new attitude that transcends the polarities.
“I am going for a holiday to Bali with my husband and best friend. We are running late for our flight. At the airport, I check in my huge suitcase, but then I realise I don’t have my passport. A young man with dark hair, whom I know to be a playwright, says, ‘Go to the counter. You look young, like a six year old. Act innocent. You should be able to talk your way on to the plane without a passport.’ But I don’t want to do this. Instead, I get in the car with my husband and friend. They are pissed at me. I know it is impossible to get back home to get my passport and make the flight. Part of me doesn’t really care. I don’t wan’t to go to Bali. I feel busy and overwhelmed in my working life – so I want to stay to attend to things – and I don’t like the tourist culture in Bali – it is infantilising. Still, I feel pulled in all directions. I have let down my companions. We stop by the side of the road to talk about it alongside an oil refinery. I say ‘They have already boarded our luggage, so they are not going to take off without us.’ Still, it is not clear what we should do from there.”
Neumann, Eric. Depth Psychology and a New Ethic (Amazon).
Woodard, Colin. American Nations: A History of Eleven Rival Regional Cultures (Amazon).
Haidt, Jonathan. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (Amazon)