When I was teaching English in Taiwan in my early 20s, I thought the best way to help my students learn English was to organize a debate. Just pick an issue, I thought, and let them go at each other. The urge to debate will force them to learn English.
Much to my surprise, this didn’t work. There were few hot-button issues that set the students against each other the way it happens in the United States. All you had to do at that time in the United States was yell “abortion” in a crowded room and people divided to yell at each other.
As foreign experiences often do, I learned something about my own culture. Something I took for granted, that people take hostile sides on issues, is actually a cultural trait. When I realized that my students were willing to discuss peacefully subjects that in the United States are touchy, such as religion, I relished in the harmony of peaceful conversations about delicate topics. It was a freedom that I didn’t feel in my own country.
Over the years I discussed this with many people, including those interested in astrology. They explained to me the difference between duality and polarity. It’s relevant for astrology and, I believe, relevant and important for American culture.
An astrological horoscope has 12 “houses” which is the sky mapped into a circle. Although there are 12 houses, there are truly 6 polarities. I’m going to use Barbara Hand Clow’s description of the polarities because her descriptions are succinct and capture the abstract essence of the polarities:
1st / 7th Self – Other
2nd / 8th Grounding – Letting Go
3rd / 9th Integrating in 3D – Integrating with spirit
4th / 10th Feeling – Power
5th / 11th Creating – Giving
6th / 12th Be here now – Bliss
Polarities are opposite points on the same continuum. In the middle is balance. Imbalance is teetering to the extreme side of the continuum.
Duality, on the other hand, represents separate, mutually-exclusive elements. If you loved me, then you would pick up your socks. If I see those socks on the floor, you hate me.
I found this site on polarity and duality to be highly informative.
My political belief is that duality is encouraged by our political party system for the gain of those wanting power. Duality says that there are two mutually-exclusive sides and you must pick one. That politically-motivated duality has created a culture that forces thinking into rigid categories or forces us to label ourselves with terms that don’t describe our true beliefs.
While duality might be useful to politicians, I believe it is unkind to the people as a whole. Polarity encourages balance and duality encourages discord. Duality is the old “divide and conquer” mentality.
It’s interesting to watch the play for duality during Presidential elections. At the Republican debate last night, Gemini “the twins” Newt Gingrich threw out a question aimed at showing differences amongst the candidates where no differences exist.
Good for Gingrich! It takes guts to say I’m running against a bunch of people who agree with me and let’s find another reason you should vote for me, a deeper, more meaningful reason than “I’m the opposite of the other candidates.”
Duality divides. Polarity unites at the balance point.
I vote for polarity.