“Whenever you want to talk about people, it’s best to take a bird’s-eye view and see everything all at once – of gatherings, armies, farms, weddings and divorces, births and deaths, noisy courtrooms or silent spaces, every foreign people, holidays, memorials, markets – all blended together and arranged in a pairing of opposites.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.
How quick we are to put things into binary categories – to typecast as one or the other, stereotype. Marcus Aurelius credits Plato with this teaching: that we can avoid the trap of being fixated on specific differences by taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture. And as we do so, observing how everything merges together and loses its distinctiveness. No longer ‘us and them’, but ‘we’.
As Charles Simeon noted, ‘truth is not in the middle and not in one extreme; it is in both extremes.’ Only by stepping back and silently observing can we learn to hear the voices from both extremes. And then we can choose to meet in the middle, neither one thing nor another, but both.