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Human Dichotomy



Watch a small child. First she wants to be held and then she wants down. Up and down, up and down, up and down. What's that all about?

Most psychologists will tell us that the basic needs of human beings fall into two types. We want to be one with others but we also want to be individuals. Sometimes the two types of needs are compared to the two wings of an airplane. Even if the psychologist were to say that we have four basic needs, she probably would still divide them into two groups--two of them as engines on one wing and the other two as engines on the other wing. For instance, it is often said that we have four basic needs: to love and be loved, to belong, to be autonomous and to have worth and value. The first two have to do with our wanting to be one with others and the last two have to do with our wanting to be distinct individuals.

This tension between the two basic needs can be even heard in old standard songs. Some songs are all about love. "What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love." But, then, we hear Frank Sinatra singing, "I've Got To Be Me," or "I Did It My Way."

When people go too far with being one with others we get an unhealthy kind of co-dependence. When I was a kid, it certainly was part of my mother's business to help me to do my business in school. But, my mother always acted as though it was her business for me to get good grades. I was quite happy to let it be her business. That way I didn't have to worry, work, or be responsible for my grades. It seems to me that this kind of unhealthy co-dependence is most often found among good people who really want to love each other. They just can't seem to identify boundaries. Where do I stop and where does the other begin?

When people go too far the other way, we get a foolish, dishonest kind of
independence. I heard a lady call in on a radio show to complain. She wanted to know why she and her husband should have to help pay for the education of other people's children. She kept repeating, "My husband and I decided not to have children." I guess it never dawned on her that it is other people's children who grow food, who build cars, who maintain sewers, and who collect the garbage this woman and her husband accumulate each day.

Of course, what we really need is
inter-dependence. We need to learn from our own bodies. The eye does not do heart business and the heart does not do eye business. The eye does only eye business and it shares what it does with the heart and the rest of the body. The heart does likewise. If we could only learn to do our own business and share it as the parts of the body do, we would finally have more healthy and honest relationships.

Unfortunately, as healthy and honest as inter-dependent kind of love is, it still always leaves us with tension because each side of our needs seems to have to compromise. This condition leaves us with very important questions. Isn't it true that we are supposed to be made in the image and likeness of God? Does God live with tension like this? When we die and inherit the Abundant and Everlasting life of God, will we continue to live with this kind of tension?

Text Box: "The eye does only eye business and it shares what it does with the heart and the rest of the body. The heart does likewise."



I believe that the reality of God contains the absolute need to be one and, at the same time, the absolute need to be more than one individual with absolutely no compromise. The Blessed Trinity will show us how those needs in God are satisfied without tension. We will learn from Trinity that, in God (the most real of all realities), there are two absolutely distinct kinds of being--Life Forms and Persons. We will see that God Life is absolutely ONE and that God Persons are THREE who are absolutely distinct (yet, inseparable) from the God Life and from each other. Furthermore, since we all are to share the abundant and everlasting life of God one day, we too will live for the rest of eternity without the tension (sexuality) that we now must experience in this temporary form of life.


In the old classic model of creation, God and creation are never really ONE. Some men at the prison I visit helped me to come up with a picture (see below) that I think represents well the way most saints and scholars have always described God and Creation. The prisoners suggested that I draw God as a cartoon character. Then they directed me to have God create the universe by speaking a "balloon" as cartoon characters are want to do. In the balloon we find all of God's creatures. "And God said, let there be…." In this picture, the "stuff" (substance) of creation is totally distinct from the "stuff" of God. This picture allows the possibility for all kinds of separation and makes explaining the Gospel a nightmare.

By contrast, using the Trinitarian Distinction between life forms and persons, there is another way to describe God and creation as ONE--absolutely ONE! In this new model (see below) there is only one supreme super-form of life (God) with absolutely every other sub-form created within God.
"In God, we live and move and have our being"--IT IS ALL THE SAME "STUFF." This description of God and creation as ONE is only possible (avoiding pantheism) by accepting what Trinity has revealed to us--the existence of persons as beings that are absolutely (yet, inseparably) distinct from the forms of life that they possess.


As a result of using the model of creation/God as ONE, our explanations of the Gospel--Jesus, Church, sacraments, etc.--no longer need to be so blurry, clumsy and feeble; they no longer require such frequent appeals to "magical" interventions of God (as though God didn't really do a very good job of creating in the first place); and they make it much less necessary to hide behind that old ace-in-the-hole, "It's a mystery." And, more to the point, it allows us to explain how the tensions of the Human Dichotomy are only temporary conditions within temporary created forms of life that are constantly coming and going and coming again (dying and rising) within the absolutely serene ONE God Life.


Let me once again emphasize that for us it is no small matter--those needs to be one with others and, at the same time, to be individuals distinct from others. A reasonable solution, if there is a solution, can be found in the very reality of God--it is found in the revelation known to us as the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity. And, I submit that this solution is also the only way for us to enjoy the full benefit of the Mystery of the Incarnation.

Text Box: "Verbal language is a lousy way to communicate, but it is all we have. All the more reason for us to work hard at language…."