We are Binary


We are Binary

I think sometimes about right and wrong, yes and no, up and down, on and off, in and out. We live in a binary world. But does it have to be so?

We have moved to a ‘my way or the highway’ world. Does it have to be that way.

My neighbor down the street has a sign in his front yard that says “LA is for Everyone.” Fair enough. The issue is that a few years ago he was leading the charge against a zoning change that would allow multi family dwellings in our neighborhood. Those duplexes and apartments would make housing more affordable in the city. His concern was that is would also lower the value of his property. Plus you would have all those “kids and old people” running around. I have been thinking about having a conversation with him about his lack of self-reflection and hypocrisy. “LA is for everyone” as long as they live somewhere else.

I had the opportunity to have this discussion with him the other day. I opted not to do so. After all, the probable outcome of the conversation would be an enemy for life. My neighbor and his wife are nice people. They like my dog. They chat when I see them on the street. I didn’t agree with their approach to certain things, but so what. Must I live in a binary world where things are right and wrong and if someone is ‘wrong’ then by golly I have to tell them so and then create a schism that will be uncrossable.

We seem to have moved to that binary position. Either you agree with me or you are bad and I don’t want to associate with you. This has gone so far as to split families, destroy marriages, and create cultural splits that serve no purpose except to generate hate and division.

The mainstream media and social media live in this binary world. You are either for us or agin us. The conversation is strident. It will allow no discussion. It is right vs wrong, yes vs. no. If you don’t believe the way I believe, you can go pound sand.

Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia were polar opposites in their judicial philosophies, yet they were the best of friends. They both loved opera and often attended opera and shared a dinner from time to time discussing their respect for that art.  They opted out of the binary world of politics and preferred to enjoy each other’s friendship.

Would that we could follow the lead of these two great minds, forgo the binary world around us and enjoy our commonality. But then what would the media have to talk about? It would be wonderful to find out.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. The change starts with each of us individually. Perhaps we can drop the vernacular of “you are right” or “you are wrong.” How wonderful it is to be able to get a taste of a different point of view? Or that aha moment, wow, I haven’t looked at it this way.

    The only thing that is right are the commandments of our Lord. Otherwise, everything else is just a preference or an opinion or a road less or more travelled.

    Thank you JVH.



  2. This is a great quote from Megan Chance. I don’t follow her, I don’t know her, I just like this quote:

    Imagine you come upon a house painted brown. What color would you say the house was?”
    “Why brown, of course.”
    “But what if I came upon it from the other side, and found it to be white?”
    “That would be absurd. Who would paint a house two colors?”
    He ignored my question. “You say it’s brown, and I say it’s white. Who’s right?”
    “We’re both right.”
    “Non,” he said. “We’re both wrong. The house isn’t brown or white. It’s both. You and I only see one side. But that doesn’t mean the other side doesn’t exist. To not see the whole is to not see the truth.

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