It is unquestionable that two opposing views dominate both philosophy and popular thinking. This reflects the binary culture that has dominated much if not most all human history. Indeed reading history tends to support one of the views – the View that regards history as a veritable cauldron of conflict, warfare, power struggles and growing danger.

It would not be hard to sketch out a Negative view of events from the initial accounts in the Bible and in ancient histories Eastern and Western. Wars, war-consultations with national and regional deities and the forced movement of the world’s occupants have dominated.

The binary course of things

The Flip Side of the negative course of world perceptions has been the entire substance of what philosophers call the metaphysical. Metaphysics is pure supposition. No one knows beyond what can be known. The binary earth and heaven divide have been dying for centuries, but now its death has become a necessity. We need to move beyond a binary understanding.

The end of the road

In the 20th century, thoughtful individuals from every camp echoed Jacques Derrida in declaring that after the Holocaust and the other disruptions an unprecedented change was needed. The world had to change or face a repetition of cycles of violence and forced movement.

The pace of life in the 21st century has almost precluded serious attention to the sign that says “Road Ends.” Our politics seems almost a defiant declaration that we can double down on the past we were warned not to repeat.

The triadic escape hatch

There is an exit ramp we can take to travel forward beyond what is more than likely a binary declaration of surrender. When we are literally taking the prospect of nuclear hostilities seriously, even of nuclear accidents, we need such an exit. It may be our greatest need.

It lies in giving up the binary, good and bad, right and wrong, my way or no way mode.

It lies in moving to a flexible posture and at the same time agreeing to universal values already well tested and known.

We need to state these values plainly. They are tolerance, helpfulness, democracy, and non-idolatry.

Moving forward

We need to forget about being perfect and reject being suicidal. That means we make nonviolence the social mode for all people.

We trim the wings of nations, get rid of dictators and accept that life can be more truthful and more beautiful if we move in this direction.

I indicated that there were two opposing understandings, but this article deals only with the dominant negative view that is still in force. The otherworldly view will be the subject of the next article in this series.