I've been thinking how I can improve the gridlock and negativity around me. Obviously I can't turn things around by myself, but I can change the way I engage people who disagree with me. And I think Janus has one of the keys to do that.
Janus was the two-faced Roman god who had two different faces on the same head. The month of January was named after him because it marks the end of the previous year and the beginning of the new one. Looking forward and looking back at the same time. You’ll might see him carved on some older buildings over the doorway because one door is an both entrance and an exit.
“Janusian thinking” is the ability to understand that two apparently contradictory ideas can both be true at the same time.
It’s easy to think “Either/Or” when you have a conflict (the answer is either my way or your way, and only one of us can be right). But that just makes each side yell louder, demonizes the other guy, and brings out the inner jerk in all of us.
Try to think about it this way - just because you’re right doesn't mean the other side has to be wrong. Both/And ("Janusian") logic sees the strengths from all sides and looks for win-win solutions.
Take the topic of immigration for example (note: this is a vast oversimplification to make a point - negative rants on the topic will be deleted). One side argues for inclusion - that the United States was and should remain a welcoming, safe nation for immigrants of all races and backgrounds. The other side argues for the rule of law - that immigration should be regulated and done in an orderly fashion to protect national security.
These two positions aren’t opposites - they're just different. Both sides have a part of the truth, and policies that actually work need to include both.
Immigration is a large scale example, but the principle applies to all kinds of conflicts, right down to your own personal relationships.
When people in power force a one-sided solution, it isn't effective in the long run. The other side feels alienated and resentful, and when they get a chance they’ll just undo the previous work that was done.
Don’t keep that cycle going. If you want to be a positive force for lasting change, you’ll need listen to all sides and find win-win solutions.
It will take some humility and maturity, but you can do it if you practice.
P.S. A good place to start is The 7 Steps to Understanding Template
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