Straight Lines and Circles

May 5, 2023- In the back room of yet another blessed, beloved coffee shop, Williams’ Brewed Awakenings, I joined a study session on “Participating in Public Discourse”. In it, we consider what is the most productive and ethical means of encouraging and promulgating civil, spiritually-nourishing public conversations on a multitude of issues.

A key premise, that occurred to the participants this morning, is that linear thinking can be disrupted, in and sent off into tangents- “Us vs. Them”, in so many words. Such a dichotomy is surely tempting. It is, after all, an outwardly reasonable means to make sense of a world in which there are so many different choices. It allows for such concepts as spectrum, continuum and degrees of influence. It allows for a beginning and an end. Linear thinking also allows for “Games of Gotcha”, “Cat Have Your Tongue?” and all other systems that let human beings sit in judgement of one another-as individuals and as groups.

The circle is a symbol of unity. When I was challenged by another member of the group for having said that love is the foundation of all virtues, while she held that truth is actually that foundation, it helped to note that love and truth are part of the circle. Neither really has prominence over the other, and the two are actually one another’s basic companions. So it is with the round, enclosed entity; nothing that nourishes, that fulfills, really exists separately from anything else that provides sustenance and affirmation. The ending of one cycle is the beginning of another-as is shown in everything from the Mayan calendar to the 1998 pop song, “Closing Time”. Indeed, when Baha’u’llah wrote “This is the Changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”, He was pointing out that the Creative Force (God, if you will) is quite capable of having set about a Universe, before the one we know now, and is quite capable of bringing this Universe to an end, many eons from now, or next week, and bringing a new Universe into being.

I have lived a life that seeks understanding, unity and harmony. It seems that is more attainable using the inclusiveness of the circle, rather than the separation suggested by a linear model-though some are sure to say, “Well, a line does connect.” Fair enough, and the circle that heals, does have to be permeable.

2 thoughts on “Straight Lines and Circles

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