“Right”

Perhaps the ultimate compliment is ‘male’ and ‘female.’ Movement is described as an attraction, a coming together is such a way that in sexual union the boundaries between the two are dissipated. Where the self ends is temporarily not discernible.

Similarly, in no case is it sensible to speak of the victory of a left hand, a high point, an electron, expansion, a south pole, the Yang or the female over its compliment. Yet we have in our language a word which indicates that this is not so. That word is ‘right.’

Taking just a few of its many meanings, consider that most of us are right-handed, that moral rectitude is talked about as being in the right, that liberty means having rights, that we speak of a vehicle as having the right of way and that when we wish to say that someone has understood what we believe to be true we say, “You’re right.” Where did this one-sidedness come from?

Pre-Christian ontological mythologies offers the concept that the first creatures who had the appearance of life were the children of mother earth. Perhaps a bit later they came from the mating of mother earth and father sky. But by the time we get to Rome, the tale of Romulus and Remus had them raised by a she-wolf. Now the idea of combativeness, wolfishness if you will, focuses on domination or ruling over, or a pack ruling over.

Similar ideas are stressed in the Old Testament.

“And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.'”

And by the time we get to the New Testament the earth is perceived as a battleground for a war between Good and Evil, or, in their anthropomorphic forms, God and Devil.

Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance writes:

And now he began to see for the first time the unbelievable magnitude of what man, when he gained power to understand and rule the world in terms of dialectic truths, had lost. He had built empires . . . to manipulate the phenomena of nature into enormous manifestations of his own dreams of power and wealth — but for this he had exchanged an empire of understanding of equal magnitude: an understanding of what it is to be a part of the world, and not an enemy of it.

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