Any position we take simply calls up its opposite, Werner asserts.
We end up in a “pea soup” of positions and their opposites.
Confusion, controversy, conflict, doubt, lack of trust, and opinions surrounding the problem of hunger and starvation result inevitably from any position we take.
Werner Erhard, The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come. 1977, at http://www.wernererhard.net/thpsource.html
The Result of Taking a Position
In examining our unconscious system of beliefs, we discover the origin of gestures; that is, behavior arising out of hopelessness and frustration. If you have now recognized and accepted the existence of your own personal and individual filter (that ground of being, that condition, that unconscious, unexamined structure of beliefs through which we perceive the facts of starvation and our attempts to eliminate starvation on the planet) you have begun to move out of the sense of frustration and hopelessness into no sense at all.
You are beginning to be able to just be with and actually observe the problem dearly. After transcending your system of beliefs, you can just be with the problem. This is an opportunity afforded, not by information, expertise or learning, but by taking responsibility for your system of beliefs.
Now we are ready to look at the problem of starvation itself. Well, what could we do? What position could we take that would end hunger and starvation?
I looked at a lot of positions that people have taken:
– The position of feeding people through better distribution.
– The Malthusian position of seeing starvation as nature’s way of maintaining a population that the world can feed.
– The position of giving away your excess food.
– The position of having the government solve the problem.
– The position of getting industry to do it.
– The position of getting churches to do it.
I found out that any position you take with respect to the end of hunger and starvation automatically and inevitably calls up the opposite position in equal measure.
To illustrate: When I say “left,” notice I don’t need to say “right.” If I say “up,” I don’t need to say “down.”
It is a fact in the universe in which you and I live that any position requires its opposite position. The assumption of any position necessarily implies its opposite position. If I take the position “Let’s end hunger and starvation,” without further ado I have called up the opposite position in some form or other. Maybe the form is, “It can’t be done.” Maybe the form is, “There are more important things to do.” Maybe the form is, “Let them do it.” Whatever the form, it is in opposition to, “Let’s end hunger and starvation.”
When our positioning calls up the opposite position, we habitually redouble the energy we invest in our position. That’s how we handle opposition, isn’t it? When you’re opposed, don’t you redouble your force? And when you redouble your force what happens? Obviously, you call up redoubled opposition.
A term I use to describe the mess that surrounds most issues in the world today and prevents us from getting at what is really so about the world’s problems is “pea soup.” The pea soup is a mass of confusion, controversy, argument, conflict, and opinions. It is, in fact, composed of positions and oppositions.
The mass of the pea soup is created like this: As a nucleus, you have “yes” and “no” as position and opposition. Then around the nucleus an enormous mass called “other solutions” builds up. For example: “That way won’t work. Try it this way instead.” “We need to do more. “Oh, no, that won’t work, I’ve got a better idea.” “No, none of that will work, we need to do it differently.”
Then this mass of solutions becomes the larger nucleus for an additional round of more/better/different, which becomes an even larger nucleus for more/better/different and on and on. That’s how you get the mass of the pea soup. That is the way we create the confusion and conflict and controversy that keep us from even seeing the truth of what the problem is.
You can’t discover this principle of opposites by making gestures. The United States Congress can make an enormous gesture, a billion-dollar gesture. There are organizations around the planet that can make big gestures, hundred-million-dollar gestures. There are small organizations that can make small gestures. And as individuals we can make even smaller gestures.
But as long as you are gesturing (as long as you are asking what more can you do, what better solution have you got, what have you come up with that’s different) as long as you are asking those questions, you cannot see that the confusion, controversy, conflict, doubt, lack of trust, and opinions surrounding the problem of hunger and starvation result inevitably from any position you take.
Once you are clear that you cannot take any position that will contribute in any way to the end of hunger and starvation, that any position you take will only contribute to the pea soup that engulfs the problem of hunger and starvation, then hope dies. And when hope dies, hopelessness dies with it: without hope you can’t have hopelessness.
You are now close to the source of the problem of hunger and starvation on the planet. If you can see that the problem is without hope, you are no longer hopeless and frustrated. You are just there with whatever is so. There’s just you, without the structure of beliefs through which you try to look at the problem. By getting clear yourself, and then getting underneath the pea soup, you can then look deep down into the problem and see its source.
(To be continued tomorrow)