Through strife good outcomes emerge

 When life is easy, beware.

Only through the strife of sun and rain storm did this beautiful Summer Solstice rainbow emerge.

Only through the strife of sun and rain storm did this beautiful Summer Solstice rainbow emerge in Colchester.

The philosopher Heraclitus has restored my hope in humanity, though the path to that hope will be through extreme suffering.  Heraclitus said through conflict/struggle all things become:

26. It should be understood that war is the common condition, that strife is justice, and that all things come to pass through the compulsion of strife. Heraclitus.

If conflict/struggle did not exist, all things would cease to exist.  There would be no rainbows for instance if there was no opposition of rain storm and sun.

27. Homer was wrong in saying, “Would that strife might perish from amongst gods and men” . For if that were to occur, then all things would cease to exist. Heraclitus.

When there is no strife, things fall apart. When you stop using your brain and muscles it is inevitable that they will begin to weaken and atrophy, whilst if subjected to the pain of exercise, the brain and muscles become strong and efficient.

50. Even the sacred barley drink separates when it is not stirred. Heraclitus

When life is easy, when there is no struggle, the worst of human nature comes forth, followed by tragedy and ruin. Think of the spoilt child who gets everything they demand from their parents, I know of no case study that a spoilt child turned into a wise, caring and humble adult.

96. May you have plenty of wealth, you men of Ephesus, in order that you may be punished for your evil ways. Heraclitus.

I made a study of the newest generation of teenagers in the UK to get a rough idea of how the future might unfold under their rule.  Experts call the new generation, Generation Citizen (Generation C) a caring-sharing generation, interested in their communities and social issues.  Gen C are conservative, non-rebellious, and the most ambitious generation in a hundred years.  Compared to other generations the UK Gen C score low on crime, drug abuse, drinking alcohol and smoking.

The teenagers of the 1960’s and 1970’s are the exact reverse of Gen C, who have been the decision-makers who ruled this world for the last 25-years, under whose stewardship greed, control and stupidity has brought the planet close to ruin.  This is not to say that other generations contributed, but it is the stewards who must take responsibility, they had power to do something about it, and failed.

The difference between the outlooks of the teens of the 1960’s and 1970’s against the teens of Gen C is economic conditions.  The 1960’s was the start of economic boom in the UK: plentiful jobs, where you could lose your job on a friday and walk into one on a monday; easy access to credit such as hire purchase; inflation was only emerging; cost-of-living was low; welfare was easy; the government paid the education fees of students in higher education.  The teenage rebellion, culture and movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s was due to the easy availability of money, but it created stewards who failed to care for their planet.

Gen C in the UK are unable to access credit; jobs are rare or non-existent; welfare benefits are constantly cut and eliminated for the young; higher education courses paid for by student loans that fail to cover living expenses, the young start life in extreme debt; cost-of-living is high, the young struggling to pay their food and rent.  Despite all this hardship, an amazing generation has emerged.

I now realise that good things happen through strife such as wisdom, liberty, sustainability and creativity, and when times are good, it a time of unseen dangers such as hubris, selfishness and greed.  In times of great hardship such as in prisoner-of-war-camps and earthquakes human innovation and empathy emerge in abundance.  As Heraclitus says: “strife is justice.”

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6 responses to “Through strife good outcomes emerge

  1. Great insights. I completely agree. I really enjoyed how you were able to tie your current observations with classic texts.

    • Despite 2500+ years of history between Heraclitus and now, his ideas continue to be relevant to the present, which is one of the advantages of basing philosophy on the observations of nature, whose patterns are constant throughout the ages.

  2. I fear you are right, but I wish it was not so. Also, the strife from all those years ago was not fuelled by the power and corruption we suspect pulls the strings of modern conflicts!

    • People reap what they sow. Heraclitus mentions that justice is two-faced, that those that move against nature will suffer ruin, misery and poverty.

      Heraclitus mentions the unity of two opposites, which raises interesting positive possibilities for the future, despite the stupidity and hubris going on at the moment.

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