In Contrast We (Should) Trust
We all have been told to remove our coats indoors even if we still feel slightly cold. The shock of heading outside without putting on an extra layer when the temperature is painfully low is persuasive enough. Similarly, we are often aware of how magnificent it is to be and feel healthy only when going through the wringer with a cold or equivalent ailment.
While the examples above are innocuous and mostly circumstantial, I have realised we can seek contrast as an attitude. Who hasn’t modulated the contrast on a TV screen or computer monitor when the image wasn’t clear enough? (Believe me, young readers, although these days most displays and content are optimised, there was a time when the contrast button was only second to its volume counterpart!) Equally, we can aim to find contrast in our ideas and stances to make sense of the world around us.
I understand it isn’t an easy task. Only a few months ago, I had difficulty trying to remember vividly what cold weather felt like. Half naked, searching for the parts of the flat least vulnerable to the external scorch, I almost gave up believing that this city could also be brumal, that it would be freezing soon enough. Right now, writing these words with the newfound luxury of central heating in times of energy shortages while wearing a thick wool jumper, I struggle to convince myself that it isn’t so long since I felt clothes were a devilish contraption that humans would do well to shed.
Indeed, we are primed for the short term. Our senses perk up at the closest inputs, and we focus our energy on them because what is most proximate in space and time is what determines if we make it to the next moment. Nevertheless, our capacity to survive our destructive nature as a species will probably depend on our transcending our instinctual bias toward the short term and rational embracing of the significance of the long term.
We cannot deny our instincts: it would be exceedingly unwise. We cannot simply ask each other to seek pain or do the opposite of what we want to do only to spot the difference and glean vital information to be sure of our choices. Such a position would be a narrow-mindedly simplistic response to a complex problem.