Wednesday August 18th, 2021

Either Or? Both And?

What do you think it will be like? Well, either one way or the other. Or both one way and the other.

As individuals

and as a community we never have had so many and so varied opportunities as we have today. Constantly, we are therefore encouraged, guided, sometimes humbled, and occasionally even pushed hard to take advantage of them.

Our zeitgeist demands that we all take advantage of the many rich, accessible, and round-the-clock offerings that are available to us everywhere. We want and are supposed to use them in order to fulfill all our needs and to make the most of ourselves and our world at all times. (Zeitgeist, by the way, means: We demand this from ourselves and from others).

It’s about permanently developing our skills and talents and use them to the maximum!

And of course we do that. Even happily. After all, this is probably the epitome of a free-spirited way of life, which is so important to us freedom-loving people after all: “I realize myself, therefore I am.”

However, this promising self-actualization mechanism of many possibilities has a catch:

Of all things, we are denied one very important, perhaps even the most important possibility: To simply be. Be just as we are.

That is no longer possible. Because if we are only allowed to be (succesful), if we use all our possibilities to the maximum, this also means that we are not allowed to be (succesful), if we don’t do that.

So our liberal zeitgeist – especially that of a passionate meritocracy – comes up with a pretty clear warning that resonates very strongly with us:

Either you use your opportunities. Or


People generally feel uncomfortable and cornered in either/or situations.

And rightly so. Especially when the big picture is at stake, such as their economic livelihood, their self-image, or their social reputation.

Is this feeling, this abstract existential angst, behind all the much-cited stress, which is nowadays more and more noticeable?

Perhaps. In any case, it certainly is that people in such states tend to react with tunnel vision unreasonably and aggressively (and also: autoaggressively).

And just exactly NOT as we are actually instructed, so by using all the possibilities, talents and abilities available to us relaxed to our well-being..

Because in such situations we only see: either-or.

Is this the reason why it is increasingly “either/or” for us?

Why there are either winners or losers for us?

Either success or (total) failure?

Either commerce or the common good?

Either rich or poor?

Either right or wrong?

Either left or right?

Either super or really bad?

Either “Us. And Us first!” or “None at all!”?

They say, freedom and good decisions start with at least three choices.

So it would be smart to replace the “either/or” worldview with a “both/and” concept.

At any rate, it seems quite likely that this is the only way we can come to much better decisions and really make use of all our options.

In the light of day

this might be the only possibility to keep our own liberty, also our freedom of choice. And to make something out of ourselves and our being. Namely hopefully the best.