Here is an interesting division of people's fundamental perspectives to consider.
POETS AND LAWYERS
I have come to the conclusion that there is a very fundamental rift between people’s main perspectives of life that can get in the way of productive interpersonal relations. And sooner or later, we get confronted with these seemingly ‘either-or’ differences, thinking one side must be better or more correct than the other side.
There are many seemingly irreconcilable perspectives in life such as optimism vs. pessimism, believing in a higher power vs. not believing in one, using intuition vs. using scientific study, being deductive vs. induction, and looking for absolute morality standards vs. “satisficing” with situational ethics, just to mention a few.
One of the most difficult conflicts of perspectives is the one that drives our thinking and writing and probably spills over to everything else we do. On one side of the equation we have people who have used their life education and experiences to learn how to think to restore simple order through writing and speaking the pure unadulterated truth (in spite of the distracting facts) with maximum common sense, clarity and mainstream understanding (the poets); on the other hand we have those folks who have used their life education and experiences to raise doubt of any absolute truth or simple order by spreading tempting, distracting and amusing chaos, confusion and ambiguity (the lawyers).
Even this rift itself speaks of the very position which each side is on. The poets are satisfied with having discovered the final division of both halves of life that confront each other in a dynamic tension; the lawyers want to continue and divide the basic split into various forms, degrees and styles of poeting and lawyering ad infinitum. But when the truth be known, we probably need both poets and lawyers to keep moving forward in our increased awareness and understanding of life and the things we need to know to be more successful, continually trying to see a bigger picture. Maybe they are both two different sides to the same coin of a fuller, more whole meaningful picture that no one single person can see with 180-degree vision.
Let’s look at how these two different groups of thinkers/writers might define common sense, a rather difficult thing to grasp and explain:
The Poet (actually from Mark Twain): Common sense is the simple knack of seeing something the way it is and doing it the way it should be done.”
The Lawyer (not yet a law and still being tested/interpreted): “Common sense is what you use in most cases if you are a reasonable person to get a certain and desirable outcome, according to a reasonable standard, in such a way as to depend upon your present skill level, an array of situational circumstances, the purpose of what you are trying to do, what the actual outcome will be given the aforementioned, and a litany of other unknown, yet proven variables that can be used to define common sense. So in essence it depends on what you want it to mean.”
Now your level of understanding of these two definitions will depend upon whether you lean towards being a poet or a lawyer. Obviously people who like the simple truth stated quietly and clearly, without any irrelevant possibilities or unnecessary divisions will prefer Mark Twain’s shorter definition; whereas the people who like stimulating chaos and confusion will prefer to hear all the infinite possibilities for more chaos to try and untangle.
I suspect both groups are really self-serving because in the end, they both perpetuate the need for the particular style of thinking and writing their services provide. We will always need people to confuse things (maybe just to make things interesting?) so others can un-confuse them (just to make things more interesting?) so that the sew-saw arrangement can continue in perpetual motion. Either way, chaos and order both rule at the same time and these two opposing perspectives need to learn how to get along better than they seem to be getting along these days. Of course the object is to know which you are doing and not assuming you are doing the other or both.
For some reason or the other, I don’t think any one person can become skilled at trying to accomplish both of these perspectives (at least from where I am looking at them); the risk of trying both usually results in not doing either one very well. This is one of those ‘diverse predicaments’ that confront us in life, teasing us into thinking there is a definite one-way or the highway solution, when the reality is that there really isn’t any ultimate solution any more than the other irreconcilable problems which unsettle our world today like justice vs. mercy and equality vs. freedom. Sometimes the pendulum is just meant to swing back and forth continuously and not stop permanently on either side.
So what is the best answer to this dreadful conundrum? Simply to realize that it really is impossible to see 360-degrees and know everything beyond any reasonable doubt, beyond half way. Each of the Poet and Lawyer perspectives are only half the picture, and oddly when either one is taken to the extreme (just like the Republicans vs. the Democrats) , they end up doing just the opposite of what their primary mission is—trying to get an accurate picture of reality but ending up muddying and confusing the clear truth or stirring up and confusing the confusion.
So, if you are a poet or a lawyer, just don’t take your perspective of ordering chaos or confusing order too seriously as being the ultimate, absolute answer and best thing to do because it just ain’t so, or at least that is the poet in me speaking! I am open to a differing point of view.
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA. He is author of You Can have Your Cheese & eat It Too, The Bow-Wow secrets, Passwords To The Prosperity Zone, and Do What Matters Most. Bill can be reached for comments and questions at (425) 454-5011 and/or bcottringer.pssp.net