“…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
– Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2
This is the Red Belt of Mixed Mental Arts:
- Technology and globalism are breaking the old ways of doing things. In order to survive the transition, we have to make kintsugi by reframing what we already have to see how those pieces can fit together to make something more beautiful than what we had before.
- The key to flourishing in the creative destruction brought by a global society is to get opposite sides to talk together and balance each other out, and fill the fractures.
- Bridging the gap between your point of view and someone else’s requires thoroughly understanding their moral intuitions so that you can reframe the issue in terms that appeal to them as in “Don’t Mess With Texas.”
A Chinese farmer’s horse runs away one day. Seeing this as a piece of misfortune, the villagers run to the farmer and express their condolences on this terrible piece of bad luck. The wise, old farmer shrugs his shoulders and says, “Good. Bad. Too soon to tell.”
The next day the horse comes back and following it is a beautiful wild stallion. Seeing this as a tremendous piece of good luck, the other villagers run to the farmer and congratulate him on this amazing piece of good luck. The wise, old farmer shrugs his shoulders and says, “Good. Bad. Too soon to tell.”
The day after, the farmer’s son is out breaking the horse in and the stallion throws his only son off his back. His son is crippled. Seeing this as an obvious piece of bad luck, the villagers run to the farmer and express their deep sorrow at this tragedy. The wise, old farmer shrugs his shoulders and says, “Good. Bad. Too soon to tell.”
On the fourth day, the army marches into town and conscripts all the young men to go off to war, except the farmer’s only son who, now crippled, is unfit for service. Seeing this as a blessing on the farmer and his family, the villagers express how they wish their sons had been crippled too so they didn’t have to go off to war either. What a good luck that the farmer’s son was crippled! The wise, old farmer shrugs his shoulders and says, “Good. Bad. Too soon to tell.”
Making kintsugi takes #IdeaSex to the next level.
Many days passed. When the monk returned, the lord did was astonished at the repairs the monk had done. The monk had mixed lacquer with gold flakes, and filled in the cracks with the mixture. The shattered bowl had been transformed by the beauty of the repairs, into something even more beautiful than it was before.
And that’s not something you have to be Japanese to do.
Meet William Kamkwamba.
In order to maintain the structural integrity of the pot every side has to be valued and repaired. The same is true for humans; each side must be valued in order to work out our differences and come to solutions that benefit the whole. Atheist and Muslim. American and Russian. East and West. Honor culture and dignity culture. These pieces may not seem to fit together and yet like the pieces of pottery in a kintsugi pot they are all essential pieces for a better whole. Nowhere is that more obvious than with liberals and conservatives.
In every culture, liberals and conservatives are fighting, but both are needed for a functional society. Liberals are often too hasty when it comes to innovating society, so they sometimes throw the baby out with the bathwater. Conservatives, on the other hand, can be too strict in holding to tradition in an ever changing world.
To reach the best conclusion, we must thoughtfully bounce back and forth between different viewpoints, take what works, discard what does not, and add what is uniquely our own. All sides are needed to make a great Undoing Project, to figure out how to keep the baby and throw out the dirty bathwater.
The White Belt teaches us we’re all in a culture. The Yellow Belt teaches us our culture binds us together, and blinds us to the others outside of our own culture. The Orange Belt, Purple Belt, and Brown Belt teach us that our feelings and reason are not separate entities, and give us tools to learn. The Green Belt and Blue Belt inspire us to be the change we want to see. The Red Belt gives us a roadmap to not just build a better Mixed Mental Arts community, but more importantly a better human family.
Bridging the gap between your point of view and someone else’s requires thoroughly understanding their moral intuitions. The one moral intuition that all groups draw on is fairness. It’s the ultimate common ground.
Fairness doesn’t have to be polite. Look at South Park. For more than two decades it’s managed to make fun of every group by being fair. Not only do they make fun of EVERYONE, they also recognize both the virtues and the faults in each group. You don’t have to be as vulgar as South Park, but by respecting people, and recognizing the merits of their point of view, you can build kintsugi instead of staring at broken pieces.