“…as the disputants approach the ground…”

From Bruce Alexander’s Globalisation of Addiction:

“The genius of a successful culture is that it provides adequately for individual autonomy and social belonging at the same time – a balancing act of the greatest virtuosity, since the needs often conflict with each other.  The crucial flaw of globalising free-market society is that the balance has shifted so far in favour of individualism that it is now extremely difficult to recover equilibrium because of the catastrophic damage – environmental, social, psychological, and spiritual – that this imbalance has already caused. The remedy for this imbalance is not a shift to the other extreme of all-encompassing collectivism, but reestablishment of the balance, if this is still possible.

Perhaps the vacuous and simplistic nature of contemporary political rhetoric reflects a loss of faith that the essential balancing act can be achieved. Imagine a pair of circus acrobats who have just tripped and fallen off a high wire in the middle of their performance, one on the left side of the wire and the other on the right side. As they hurtle downward, they can be heard bombastically arguing about whether it is more intelligent and graceful to be on the right or the left of the wire. In reality, of course, only the act of balancing itself has any intelligence and grace. The absurdity of the dispute becomes more and more evident as the disputants approach the ground.”

Alexander’s book and his perspective on the phenomenon of addiction challenge conventional beliefs and paradigms about the nature of human behavior, and I can hear the likely objections and disagreements knocking around in my mind as I read. And then there are passages like this one which seem hard to argue with no matter what one’s beliefs or chosen paradigms.