“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”
― Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
Courtesy of Flo Maderebner
What is Balance, Anyway?
Recently, I had a chat with a friend of mine about balance. We talked about the run of the mill problems that come with work, marriage, kids, etc. It was a less than spectacular conversation, until he opened up a little more about exactly what was going on in his life. Details withholding, we concluded that it seems like we often try to make others who we think they should be, while neglecting any kind of real self-reflection. This prompted me to think of what balance looks like in other areas of life.
Conservative and Progressive.
In both politics and faith, I tend to lean fairly conservative with some libertarian ideals. But I often find myself contemplating both traditional conservative principles as well as progressive ones, and wondering whether or not there is actually a right way to do things. For some reason, I simultaneously long for a conservative return to tradition but also want to tear it all down and progressively rebuild it at the same time. I think I’ve come to realize that these two things can coexist in faith and politics, but not in their totality.
If you ever want to have an interesting conversation, discuss the size, scope, and role of the federal government with a Native American. I learned two very important truths from one Navajo and one Mohave.
One struggle the Navajo Nation has (at least, in this particular part of Arizona) is with identity. My co-worker, a Navajo man, told me that they call themselves an independent nation but are still very dependent on the federal government and modern conveniences. He made it a point to teach a lot of the younger people in his community more traditional ways of living, healthier lifestyles, etc.
Later, in a different occupation, a Mohave co-worker told me about this philosophical concept of a bird, and how the left wing and the right wing are part of the same body – working in tandem to propel the bird forward. I’m not entirely sure if this was a strictly Mohave principle or idea, but I liked the concept and it is something that has stuck with me for many years.
It seems like we need both practical, traditional ideas, as well as progressive ones. We need people that will hearken back to the days where things were simpler and practical and more sustainable. But we also need creative types to challenge the status-quo and push things forward. The left and right have to balance in order to make true progress, however. The creative types can come up with ideas, and the practical types can implement them. There is true growth in that push-pull relationship as long as there is balance.
We need designers and engineers, but we also need builders. We need song writers and musicians, but we also need people who run music studios. We need creative types to push things forward and come up with new ideas and programs, but we also need practical and agreeable people to run those programs.
Maybe there is actually real progress to be made not in finding that balance, but recognizing that the conflict between the two is not necessarily a bad thing. Opposites can work in tandem. Conservative traditions can serve a community in the same manner that progressive ones can foster growth.