If I had to choose one process which signified the development of someone’s ability to reason effectively, it might be the dissolution of dualities—the shift away from black-and-white towards grey thinking, in every domain. It would be a dropping of sincere belief in simplistic, either-or models. For example, suspension of the Left-vs-Right model in politics, abandonment of Good-vs-Evil posturing, and a decline in fanatical support or fervent hatred of particular ideas.
Because of this, because of my own attempted move towards grey thinking, I’ve started to explicitly highlight any dualities I find myself subscribing to or thinking in. The most recent comes from Steven Erikson’s The Bonehunters:
“Shadowthrone cannot – must not – be underestimated. He possesses too much knowledge. Of the Azath. Perhaps, too, of us. He is not yet our enemy, but that alone does not make him our ally.”
Until reading that passage, I had been viewing the world—and more specifically, the people in it—in adversarial terms. Someone was either a friend or a foe, for me or against me, an enemy or an ally to my cause. Naive, I know. But such perceptions are being dissolved, replaced with something more nuanced: the idea that there are stepping stones between the extremes of explicit ally and explicit enemy. Individuals can be indifferent to me or my efforts. They can be supportive in a minor or major way, or they can be un-supportive in a passive or active manner.
My point, I suppose, is that Enemy-Ally is not a dichotomy, but a spectrum with many, many stop-offs between the poles. So don’t believe anyone who preaches the “If you’re not for me, you’re against me” rhetoric—especially if that preacher is yourself.