In sharp relief

My late father told me when I was a young man that if I wished to make a point, exaggerate the difference. For example, to highlight the implication of a large or small tire for one’s vehicle, imagine the vehicle with a tire the size of a thimble going over a pothole. Clearly the bigger the tire, the smoother the ride.  No doubt there are competing reasons of a different nature for a smaller circumference (radius) but that inquiry doesn’t address this dialectic model. The metaphorical use of black and white extends to any binary expression including for example the predominant political parties (Liberal vs Conservative, Democrat vs Republican) of Canada and the United States of America. In other countries where loyalists compete with anarchists the suspension of distinction is frequently moot; but the competition is invariably real.

Putting something in sharp relief promotes a more immediate settlement of features and encourages simpler analysis. It removes the gloss and shine while preserving the very distinctions which contribute to the overall look. The is seldom a confusion of the nature and purpose of the contrast.

The availability of the distinctions arising from sharp relief may however promote an undesirable consequence; namely, the preservation of contrast rather than the appreciation of differences. Contrast and difference amount to the same thing on one level of examination but the interpretation can easily percolate to the sole character of fractionation whereby appearance defeats purpose. Most of us want the same things in life though obviously we express those ambitions in different ways. If we allow our distinctions to become as critical as a choice of black or white, we’ve defeated the clarity of understanding. The object is not the distance ourselves from one another but rather to stimulate such intellectual, emotional, commercial or governmental nature as advances the whole. The alternative of contradiction and defeat is hardly worthy.

Clearly the variance of people within the democratic political system enjoyed by most of the Western world suffers one hindrance; namely, election depends on votes.  Regrettably many candidates for political election (votes) have succumbed to the necessity of preserving differences and touting taradiddle rather than promoting cooperation. Lindsey Graham (R) United States Senator from South Carolina for example. Putting things in sharp relief is the first thing he does to distance himself from his own colleagues when it suits; but, if he curries their favour, the sharp relief is the first thing to go! Dismissing such contradiction of behaviour as a windbag performance is not necessarily correct.

The secret to understanding differences is to presume (rightfully so in my opinion) that there is good reason why a person thinks the way he or she does. Knowing and understanding that makes it far easier to straddle the boundaries which at first appear to separate us. It isn’t for example sufficient merely to say about another, “He’s a nut case!” Descending into ad hominem argument is clearly an error of logic; more importantly, it misses the point – which is to appreciate the difference between what is perceived as black or white. What requires highlighting is not how we see it, but what we see.  And that means having to get to know one another.

The application of sharp relief is generally easier in a political vernacular where many of us wear our affiliation on our sleeve. But without sharp relief being so predominant, the further distillation of behaviour may be required. I find it a fairly easy proposition to reduce any of us to elemental features – and only because I have learned the customary traits in humanity as a whole not because of any especial insight into another. I find it puts many things in sharp relief merely to recall one’s base necessities which in addition to food, water and shelter include the need for love and approbation. Seldom is the need sufficiently useful to include some intention to defeat another. Most ambitions of others are oddly directed at improving themselves.  What I am saying is that the objective of communication between things in sharp relief is to appreciate one another. Remember there is no white without black; difference of any degree merely heightens that distinction.