Reconciling Contradictions — Quality of a Leader

The famous logical principle of non-contradiction says that “something cannot be true and not true at the same time”. Surely if food is hot now, it can’t be not hot at the same time. People would say this is common-sense and it is really so. There are examples in life and in theory which tries to go beyond this binary divisions. (Fuzzy Logic is a good example for any interested person).

Now when we look around in our daily life, we could see that theory and practical, prayer and work, human and divine, public and private are made to work as opposites or contradictory. (Surely we can argue that it is not… I agree that it is not; but many a times, our society assumes it so). For example, what I do in my private life is not so important; only my public life has to be in an acceptable manner. We have preachers (religious, political and others) who are extremely eloquent with their speeches, but witnessing for their speeches with their life could be a problematic area. Many a times, students don’t see much value in studying theories and don’t know how it is relevant for the practical life (Surely teachers too are to be blamed here). So we live in the midst in so-called apparent contradictions and we struggle to reconcile them. (Theoretically we can reconcile them, but practically it is not that easy many a times).

We have right-wing and left-wing politicians; we have communists and capitalists; have theists and atheists. Surely these are opposites in some sense. But they manage to live as long as the person doesn’t have an extremist/exclusive understanding of that ideology. So it is for the societies to find a way of reconciling people from various ideologies. Many societies, especially India, have succeeded in the same, except when extremism is present in the ideology/belief of one group of people.

Many of the influential world leaders could bring some sort of reconciliation through their lives. Gandhiji could bring whole Indians together for a noble cause; Mother Theresa was appreciated beyond religions for her work. The middle paths of Buddha and Aristotle are examples of this. There are few famous and many not-so famous examples even today.

As Catholics celebrate the feast of Christ, the King, Jesus is one such example. He is fully human and fully divine, which itself is a contradiction. (I don’t want to get into theology now). But he is both King and Servant. (Occasionally we use servant King and such phrases). But I think using both as titles (nouns) is more powerful and closer to his life.

A king is independent, servant is dependent. A king is powerful, servant is powerless. A King is served by the servant. But Jesus’ life is the best acting out of the reconciliation of this contradiction. If people finds it difficult to accept, the only persons to be blamed are Christians. The Church and the Christians (including me) failed to show that reconciliation in our public and personal life. Most of us would be happier to take the Kingship dimension, leaving the servant dimension. Today’s feast might be an invitation to reconcile the contradictions of the society in a healthy manner for the authentic happiness and joy of all. This is possible, but requires efforts from many.

Probably one of the best terms, I have heard in recent times to show the aspect of reconciliation is a term used by Raimon Panikkar. We have heard about dependence, independence and inter-dependence. Panikkar would use inter-independence. I think it signifies the dynamic contradiction or tension between both the extremes, but it is an invitation for finding the dynamic, flexible, but reconciled model.

Keep searching for options to reconcile.. All may not be so difficult…

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