Ambivalence: having both attraction and aversion for something. Most people would think this is a bad thing. Usually it is at least problematic. For me, it is something I experience more often than most people I know, more than they admit to me anyway. Ambivalence is often judged as a weakness, as if the person feeling it can’t make up their mind. When I experience ambivalence, it’s not that I can’t make up my mind; it’s that I’ve decided to give equal consideration to two opposing views, at least for a time. It’s actually a sign of the strength of the flexibility of my mind, and my powers of imagination.
Usually when I’m willing to harbor ambivalence, it’s because I’m seeking a “third way.” I’ve actually made a strong decision to look for a new paradigm. Sometimes I find (or create) that new view; other times I don’t and I accept that I have to make a choice much like others before me. Even so, I really don’t see the world as filled with dichotomies. I believe there are a few absolutes that form the context for our thinking, experiencing, believing, choosing. But within that frame of What-Is-Real, there is a multitude of spectrums. So why not explore new nuances, creative combinations of unexpectedly compatible complexities?
There you have my briefest of introductions to my view of “ambivalence.” My particularly puzzling issue, something important to me that continues to cause me much ambivalence, something I have yet to resolve or re-frame for myself is: Pacifism.
Next post will give a bit of background on what I was taught regarding a pacifist lifestyle by my Mennonite parents and childhood community.