“Find a common ground” is probably the most overused and abused advice most of us would have heard and said during times of grave conflicts. Especially in the context of relationships where two people with entirely different personalities come together.
With the modern societies connected in a web of social media, surpassing the boundaries of nations and oceans separating them, the idea of the ‘common ground’ is largely political, if not entirely. We have countries with a state religion, countries which are secular, nations following one soci-economic and political ideology and nations standing against those. If not for the horrifying consequences of another world war, with many countries equipped with advanced nuclear weapons capable of catastrophic end of mankind, all these nations maintaining global peace would be impossible. On this global stage with overflowing conflicts, the fear of nuclear weapons acts as a common ground. Of course, humanitarian values and egalitarian organizations and leaders do deserve some credit. This is an interesting topic for discussion over coffee with a friend. Or on a date with a person with words like humanitarian, egalitarian, equalitarian etc in their tinder bio 😉
By now we have realized that we live in a polarized world and the conflicting perspectives divide us, sometimes to a point that reconciliation seems impossible. It is as true on a personal level as it is on a global level. But we don’t have the fear of nuclear bomb to help us find a middle ground for our internal conflicts, do we?
When Cersei Lannister said “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” I couldn’t agree more! (Don’t worry I don’t plan to blow up everyone who disagrees with me by plotting a wildfire). However, I soon realized that my life didn’t really conform to the so-called mantra I thought I had discovered. I have always found myself caught between two ideologies and structures which required entirely different perspectives like my passion for literature and poetry while planning for PhD in Physics and my faith in Science while holding firm to the bases of my religion. That’s when I realized something. The whole idea of common ground doesn’t work effectively in practice!
My nerdy urge to associate everything, literally, everything, with the laws and concepts of Physics and Philosophy forced me to do the same with this concept of finding the middle ground. And when I did, I was not shocked to identify the symmetries and parallels.
I realized that the bubble I call my life actually circumnavigates a bunch of seemingly conflicting beliefs I hold. Just like an electron revolving around the nucleus, the planets around the Sun and the Sun, with the solar system, revolving around a black hole. To put this in a much simpler way, like the city of Madurai built around the majestic Meenakshi temple I’ve built my life around a few belief systems and things that inspire me.
Okay, I won’t bore you. I’m getting to the point.
My core idea is not that of the Madurai-Meenakshi or the planetary motion. It is but the subtle difference between these two systems.
When I talk about planetary motion or an electron, I’m limiting myself to a specific path called the orbit. I have my set of rules and all my actions are in accordance with these and life goes on. But this sounds a bit monotonous and believe me a monotonous life is something I desire the least. However, the concept of Meenakshi and Madurai helps me introduce a parameter I value a lot the most. Space.
This enables me to take paths which are not integrals of a linear path or elliptic. I’m free to add other elements of my fancy and expand the boundaries of my city. I get to decide the radius of my Madurai and hence keep the gates open to new perspectives.
When you talk about the middle ground or a common ground you are actually talking about the shades of greys between black and white. What happens when one of them disappears? The middle ground vanishes. And you are left with something that you have always been. What’s the point of any relationship or companionship when it leaves no impact on you?
If you allow me to take this to a deeper level I feel the first model talks about two different truths forming the third truth. It makes no sense, right? The third truth in essence is a compromise. But here is the best thing about the second model: truth transforms itself into a verb from a noun. Truth no longer remains a fact but turns out to be a process. And that’s what life is! A process. And the process differs from person to person. It is this difference that offers the space to erect the bridges that connect them.
I will talk more about this third space, the ephemeral space, in another article. Meanwhile, I am excited to have a peek into your Madurai and the elements of your Meenakshi.