Yin, yang, bows, and arrows

Benjamin Chase of the Plainsman
Posted 7/21/23

In this From the Mound, the writer explores the need for balance

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Yin, yang, bows, and arrows


“How in the world
am I going to see?
You as my brother
not my enemy?”
“Everyday Life” — Coldplay

The title track on their 2019 album, “Everyday Life” was the fourth release from the album by Coldplay. While the album received mixed reviews due to the band’s experimentation with musical styles on the double-sided album, most hailed this as a beacon of the lyrically-led ballads that the band made its reputation on.

The song didn’t achieve particular success on the charts, but when on Saturday Night Live in November 2019, the band chose this as one of the pieces to play.

Lyrically, the song discusses the global conflict of recognizing the human-ness in every person.

The chorus explores that everyone has similar life experiences, from hurt and tears to dreams and love, encouraging that we really are not all that different.

Author Joseph Marshall III explores balance multiple times in his excellent book, “The Lakota Way.” The book explores 12 tenants of Lakota life through Lakota legends, true stories about Lakota historical figures, and also through application to modern life.

Marshall relays that during a Lakota marriage ceremony, an elder will often be called upon to share the importance of the bow and arrow.

Alone, neither the bow nor the arrow are particularly useful. No matter the quality of string or strength of wood utilized in crafting the bow, without an arrow, it is scarely a weapon at all.

Similarly, no matter the quality of workmanship on the arrowhead or how straight the arrow shaft is, it is useless without a strong bow to propel it to its intended target.

In true balance, if one sees a bow without an arrow, or vice versa, the question becomes where the other is.

While I do not imagine someone seeing a Republican and wondering where the counterpart Democrat is, we truly do require balance in our society, whether it’s in politics or sports or religion or really any aspect of a functional society.

Marshall explains the impact of balance in Lakota society further.

“Even among us, as with every other people the world over, there is homosexuality,” Marshall writes. “We include a place for for homosexuals by not denying them the opportunity to be full-fledged members of the community. As such, they are part of, and not apart from; hence, balance is maintained.”

Are there those among the Lakota who don’t agree with homosexuality? Absolutely.

However, the desire for societal and cultural balance will propel Lakota to be an inclusive and validating society, rather than forcing ideologies and beliefs onto members of the community through rules and laws to forbid such action or disenfranchise those whose lives don’t exactly match up with a personal - or even predominant - set of demographics.

The words “conservative” and “liberal” are now tied to parties, and that’s a shame.

The quickest-expanding political affiliation in the United States is currently “independent/unaffiliated” for this very reason. No party has a hold on either conservative or liberal values.

Those who claim to be conservative are extremely liberal when it comes to economic policy and spending others’ money.

Those who claim to be liberal are quite conservative when it comes to putting into law protections for all people within the country - although it makes for an excellent campaign talking point to speak loudly and then neglect to put into action once in office.

And because there is an expanding group of people who don’t directly affiliate with one party or the other, they’re being disenfranchised in this country.

When discussing the inability for those who register as independent to participate in the primary process within the country, people from both parties ask why someone can’t just sign up for a party and then change back after the primary - and then enact laws that require a waiting period between changing your party designation as a voter.

Never mind that those same people encouraging party-switching for independent voters would never consider changing their own party designation to vote in a primary.

This week, it was announced that South Dakota had set a new mark within the country for lowest unemployment rate at 1.8%.

At the same time, employers are frustrated that they cannot find employees that “want to work” without being compensated well beyond previous levels for the position.

Yet, the state is spending millions of dollars on nationwide advertising, encouraging people to move to the state to work, which will only further imbalance the system against employers and toward employees, driving up wages in the state until the price points on goods are significantly affected for the average consumer.

Every action has a balancing reaction.

When we don’t account for those or are unwilling to see the other angles/views on the world, the world will strive to put itself back into balance.

The question is whether we want to be reactive or proactive to achieving that balance.

Do we recognize that the bow is required and not stock up on more arrows than are feasible to shoot or enhance the bow so much that it requires increasingly specialized and unique arrows that are incredibly expensive and rare to find.

Balance is a tenant of every major religion and society throughout history, and when societies got out of balance, that’s when crumbling began.

Rather than seeking ways to push away those who believe differently, and thus expand the enormous gap between average citizens and the elite, and to further isolate from a global landscape, perhaps seeking proper ways to engage for balance would be in order - and a refreshing change.