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The Law of Polarity

Look at this picture for a moment.

What do you see?

Is it an old woman?

Is it a young woman?

Can you see both?

The Law of Polarity is all about opposites.  Day/night, black/white, up/down, smile/frown.  One effective way to learn about something is through the use of opposites--we can understand more of what something is by understanding what it is NOT. We understand happiness because we understand sadness.  We understand what is right because we understand what is wrong.


For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.  If not so...righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.  Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one...
And to bring about his eternal must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter." (2 Nephi 2:12, 15)

Consider that in the picture above, the old woman exists BECAUSE the young woman exists also. The young woman can be seen BECAUSE the old woman is there, too.  Together, they make a whole.

The Law of Polarity helps us to look at our circumstances in a similar way.  In every negative circumstance, there is also the seed for good, to an equal or greater degree.

Several years ago, I opened up a mortgage statement that showed our mortgage would be increasing by over $100 a month.  The reason?  A significant change in our insurance premium. We had just completed another claim on our homeowner's insurance.  In the few years prior, we had experienced several issues with plumbing, and had relied on our insurance to get the repairs that we needed.  That last claim was the one that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

I felt humiliated and embarrassed that I hadn't realized what the effects of all those claims would be (two of these claims were absolutely necessary, but there were two others that, in retrospect, probably shouldn't have been filed).  I shopped around for other insurance companies, but with each call, my situation seemed to get worse--any company that would take us would charge us even more to insure us.

I finally called a friend who was an insurance agent.  Oh, how I wished I had known before all of the information he gave me, even in that first call!  The situation was bad, but my friend was determined. When he called me back, he had better news for me than I imagined was possible.  First, his company would insure us (that right there was a relief).  Second, the rate he was able to secure for us would REDUCE our monthly mortgage payment.

Wait, what?

There were some stipulations involved, including a very high deductible, but nothing we felt was unreasonable. And overall our monthly mortgage payment would be about $100 LESS than when the whole fiasco started.

Something good indeed.

Scripture story:

The people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi were recent converts to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prior to their conversion, they had been a blood-thirsty people.  But no more.  They gave up their old ways, and covenanted with God never to kill again.  They even buried their weapons of war.

But enemies came, seeking their lives.  They were firm in their convictions, and faithful to their covenants, even to the laying down of their lives.  "Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not" (Alma 24:6).

So what happens when the enemy comes to kill them?

"Now when the people saw that they were coming against them they went out to meet them, and prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord; and thus they were in this attitude then the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword.

"And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them..." (Alma 24:21-22).

A thousand lives lost, without any resistance at all.  Can you imagine?

But the Law of Polarity says that from every bad situation is the seed for something good.  What good can come from the slaughter of more than a thousand people?

"Now when the Lamanites saw that their brethren would not flee from the sword, neither would they turn aside to the right hand or to the left, but that they would lie down and perish, and praised God even in the very act of perishing under the sword--

"Now when the Lamanites saw this they did forbear from slaying them; and there were many whose hearts had swollen in them for those of their brethren who had fallen under the sword, for they repented of the things which they had done.

"And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them again, for they were stung for the murders which they had committed...And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain..." (Alma 24:23-26).

The number of lives lost in this story is exceeded by the number of souls saved.  But the Law of Polarity is not merely a numbers game. It's about recognizing the reality of good, even in the face of what seems so bad:  "...and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they were saved. And there was not a wicked man slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people" (Alma 24:26-27).

The Law of Polarity assures us that even when things look bad--even very, very bad--there is the potential for good.  It doesn't necessarily take away the natural sorrow we feel when bad things happen--I'm sure the families of those thousand slain grieved for their loved ones.  But the pain is mitigated by the faith in something good coming from the bad situation.

There is room for both sadness and happiness in life.  In fact, both are necessary.  How could we understand happiness without experiencing the opposite?  People who strive to live without experiencing sadness or other negative feelings also limit their capacity for experiencing joy.

Parenting is the perfect example of the Law of Polarity.  Within this experience we find the greatest capacity for love, joy, and happiness, and also the greatest sorrow, frustration, and disappointment. The love a parent has for a child is transcendent, and the grief a parent experiences as a child struggles can be overwhelming.  But such great happiness does not come WITHOUT soul-wrenching experiences. The greater the heartache, the greater the joy that can come.

Further Reading:
A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe by Michael Schneider
Chapter two of this book discusses the principle of polarity and all of the places where it is apparent in nature and in relationships.  For the greatest understanding of the principle, it's best to first read the introduction and chapter one of this fascinating book.

For Kids:

Stories and Movies
Using a favorite story or movie, teach the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, true and false.  Very often in fairy tales, the protagonist embodies all that is good, and the antagonist embodies all that is bad.  Point out the differences.  For older children, discuss the dual nature of human beings (the natural man and the divine nature).  A few of our family favorites that illustrate the ultimate struggle between good and evil follow:

Harry Potter series (books and movies)
Star Wars series
Disney's Beauty and the Beast and other fairy tale adaptations
The Chronicles of Narnia series
The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings series
It's a Wonderful Life
Stories of The Bible
Superhero and fairy tale stories; fables (there are a lot of other dichotomies that are explored: beauty/ugliness, kindness/rudeness, love/hate, deceptive/trusting, etc.)

Demonstrate the Law of Polarity using magnets.  Magnets have poles--one end attracts magnetized objects; the other end repels them.  Both the power to attract and the power to repel exist within the magnet.  Even though both properties exist, magnets are known for their ability to attract, and used as such.  The focus on the positive or useful nature of the magnet makes them a powerful tool.


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