I've been thinking that my life is simply too easy. It's not that there aren't enough problems in the world. The trouble seems to be my inability to do anything about any of them. I'd like some problems that I can fix, please. Shouting at the evening news isn't helping.
My wife disagrees, of course. She has a long list of problems for me to solve. This is where I usually run into opposition, or at least, contradictions. I am grateful for her because, without her, life would really be boring. Trying to convince her that I am worthwhile is about half the reason I write this column. They say courtship should never end. In my case, I wouldn't dare.
The problem with thinking life is too easy is that we may start feeling useless. This can often lead to actually being useless. Now, I am obviously not useless because my mother always told me I was "good for nothing." That may seem like a contradiction, but it was useful opposition because it motivated me to be good for something. I've forgotten what that was right at the moment, but I once was.
My present opposition involves the birds and the bees. No, it's not what you think. The birds have eaten all our strawberries, and the native bees seem to be declining. If I can't solve these problems, how in the world am I supposed to decide what to do about climate change?
My wife suggests I get the air conditioner going. That's just crazy as it has nothing to do with my problems. But she pointed out that it is possible to change the climate in the house. And, if all the little climates got fixed then the world climate would just naturally improve. I think there may be something wrong with this reasoning, but I can't think too clearly when she is that close.
This is one of the conceptual problems of science. For any scientific principle or fact to be defined, there must exist an opposing principle. If there is something called a positive charge, there must also be something called a negative charge. If there is endothermic, there must be exothermic. Acids must have their bases.
Global warming must admit the possibility of global cooling. Unfortunately, if either or both are bad, we are then left with the concept of climate change. The opposite of climate change would be climate stagnation, I guess. Would that be better? If the Earth was created, then there must be a possibility of it being destroyed. If scientists think we can destroy the world, who do they think created it? We weren't even there then.
The idea of energy is interesting. If there is such a thing as energy, then there must be such a thing as negative energy. I guess, if push comes to shove there must be. Consider, every conductor needs an insulator somewhere in the circuit. By the way, electronically, what's the opposite of a circuit? Whatever it is, it must have an on and off also.
But my problems seem to revolve around plants and animals right now. Is there something birds like more than strawberries? I'll volunteer to plant them in my neighbors' yard! The principle of opposites is fundamental to science. It defines a situation in which the existence of something depends on the co-existence of another thing which is opposite to it. The two things are dependent on each other and presuppose each other. The road up to the Mesa is the same road as the one down from the Mesa. Well, at least, hopefully. The hot tea may become the same as the cold tea.
So, what is the opposite of opposites? I guess it would be sameness. Of course, it can't be the same as opposite, because the "same" is opposite of opposite. In science, just like everything, there must be opposition in all things.
Gary McCallister, email@example.com, is a professor emeritus of biological sciences at Colorado Mesa University.