Yesterday I wrote a bit about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, Compensation.
In the essay, Emerson argues that everyone is compensated, for the good or the bad, in relation to the good or bad they bring to others in the world.
Good, or bad. These are relative terms, of course, defined by their polarizing nature. You can’t have one without the other.
Emerson’s Compensation opens with a discussion of the polarity of nature, in which everything in nature… that is to say, everything everywhere… is in part defined by it’s opposite:
- Good and Bad.
- Day and Night.
- Male and Female.
- Young and Old.
- Rich and Poor.
- Hot and Cold.
This duality is an important concept in Eastern philosophies like Buddhism: think about the Yin and the Yang, representing the balance of all things and the requirement of one for the existence of the other.
This duality is an important concept in Stoicism: consider that our emotions often define what is good or evil, and that we can change our framing to understand a situation to be its opposite.
This contrasting duality is also important in persuasion. When we define one group —perhaps a group of people that always invest in the stock market at the wrong time— the brain of your reader (or listener) will automatically define another group as the opposite— the people that invest at the right time.
Guess which group your reader will want to be a part of?
Humans are tribal, by nature, since the dawn of time. That’s not going away any time soon.
If you can define an “out group” and can poke fun at those losers, a human’s tribal instincts will kick in.
Your reader will either defend that group… and perhaps you’ve lost them completely… or they’ll automatically identify as a part of the in-group (because of the contrast, “I’m not like that out-group!… so I must be the in-group!”)
Emerson’s essay Compensation has a lot more to say, and overall Emerson had a brilliant mind.
Check out his essays, available on-line, or if you prefer a paper book (like I do), you can find Emerson’s Essays on Amazon—
Keep your focus, *|FNAME|*,