Negative Spaces

A number of years ago, I took an art class, just for fun.  It wasn’t because I thought I was a great artist.  I enjoy creating things, and wanted a “time out” of enjoyment, and also perhaps to improve my mediocre drawing skills.  My drawings remained unremarkable, but I learned the necessity of looking at things the way they are, trying to observe their details with accuracy.  I also learned the concept of negative spaces.

Negative spaces does not mean unpleasant or objectionable areas.  It simply means that what an artist creates is not defined by the actual image created, but by the blank spaces around it.  One example is that of the sculptor, who chisels away what is NOT his image to reveal what is.  The creator of drawings does the same; if the negative (empty?) spaces are noted and reproduced, the image itself emerges.  One might think that this phenomenon is limited to art.  However, science has a similar concept when it studies black energy – the energy we do not see in which the energy which we can perceive is immersed.

It would appear, then, that everything that exists in our three-dimensional world is created through the simultaneous creation of its opposite.  Joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin, as are peace and war, abundance and want, wet and dry, and so on.  Things that exist seem to be defined as much by what they are not as by anything we can say about them.   Most of us, though, do not recognize this duality as a part of creation.   We want everything to be the same, and so take one of  a pair of dualities and demonize that side, rather than understanding it.

We make the same mistake when we think about justice, civil rights, and how to accept what is.  Instead of understanding and allowing for differences, coming to a balance within variety, we tend to want everything to be the same, and we judge what is not.   The error is that creation itself is sustained by differences; without differences, creation devolves into a mass of sameness, similar to the amorphous mass called the Dominion from the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine.  We seem unable to assign full value to that which is different from ourselves without first making it same.

Gender, race and ethnicity are three “biggies” of the current times.  In order for all to be treated equally, all must first be made the same. Yet, differences remain. There are different genders, and different cultures within races and ethnicities, and exceptions to patterns.  True equal treatment cannot happen until those differences are taken into account, valued, and just action taken incorporating those differences.  Treating everyone as if all were same invariably violates the needs of someone.  Equal valuing and equal meeting of needs can be possible; equal sameness is an unachievable illusion, unless one wishes to reduce our rich and varied society to mass anonymity.

No, we should not grant more resources, more privilege, more respect to some than to others.  That is neither justice nor equality.  Each of us benefits from the differences of our fellow members of creation.  My neighbor’s need to play loud ethnic music may conflict with my need for relative quiet. Neither his music nor my preference for quiet are better. What is needed is to value both, talk with each other, and agree on how to respect each other’s needs.  A law about who can play what when is not necessarily a fair solution for us both, as such a law also decides when he may party and when I must sleep. It also discourages constructive communication between us.  Although we can legislate large, basic issues such as traffic flow and not shooting each other, we cannot legislate fairness.  It must be negotiated issue by issue on the basis of those involved.  We create our own reality as we decide individually and together what we will and will not do.

Legislated, top down, get-on-the-bandwagon campaigns for answers are rarely solutions.  Let us instead stand apart from the bandwagons and speak and listen to each other with mutual respect.

Peace,     Diane