The Journey series
This and That
As I began this week’s article, I recognized A pattern I follow: write, post, reflect, and regret. I imagine this pattern torments many writers, but, to quote Pilate, “What I have written, I have written.” My examination of relationships, in retrospect, should have begun with this article, not that one.
The first step in exploring our universe is to recognize that one thing is not another. We start with physical objects, setting spatial boundaries. We intuit when what we are sensing forms a whole which extends from here to there and not beyond. We compare, creating sets and subsets; this is similar to these ones but different from those ones. We break things down into components and build them up into composites.
We recognize intrinsic associations between objects and then we learn to form arbitrary bonds. We create symbols; this sound or image represents that. We teach others to use the same set of symbols and language is born. We are able to transfer thoughts from our mind to another’s mind.
This only works reliably, however, when both parties adhere to the same convention and use it honestly. Unsolvable conflicts arise, at times, when people actually agree about the concept but have slightly different definitions for words they use. Since I’m exploring relationships, I’ll use marriage as my example. Here are two definitions of marriage.
1) A life-long commitment between one man and one woman which provides a stable environment
in which to bare, care for, and nurture children and is, therefore, worthy of social recognition and
2) An agreement that provides social recognition and legal protection for the parties involved.
By the first definition, marriage derives a benefit which accrues to society; by the second, society bestows a benefit on the union. These different ideas require unique symbols if a rational discussion is to be held. When marriage is assigned to the first definition and then claimed also for the second, the utility of the word marriage is destroyed for debate on the concept marriage. There is so much debate these days on what marriage is that we are distracted from the more important issue of why marriage is.
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Peter T Elliott