Who has not pondered the liar paradox? That is the scenario when a liar states that she/he is lying. If the liar is lying that person is telling the truth; which, in turn means the liar is lying.
The liar paradox is thought to have inspired the invention of Opposite Day. No, Opposite Day was not a product of the funny movie of the same name. The film served to revive the idea of Opposite Day. The first mention of this unofficial holiday was coined by Democratic U.S. Representative Alexander Kerr Craig of Pennsylvania in 1892. Opposite Day is probably one of the only things for which Craig is remembered. He was also known as a comedian. Craig’s Congressional term lasted less than half a year because he died in office.
This is a holiday that kids and the young at heart enjoy once they declare that it is Opposite Day. Whatever they say means the opposite of the usual definition. Of course, there is the paradox of saying today is Opposite Day which implies that it is NOT Opposite Day.
Even though Opposite Day is thought of as a children’s fun day, we can also celebrate the deeper meaning of the holiday (or not). In the sixth century BCE, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated that opposites are necessary for life itself. Everything is unified within a system of balanced interchanges.
One of the most easily understood of these exchanges is the basic act of breathing. We must breathe in just as much as we must breathe out. A person cannot endlessly inhale, nor can one constantly exhale and still remain alive.
In morality, the concept of good is counterbalanced by the concept of bad. If a person views life as a battle between good and evil, then life becomes a constant struggle between those two extremes. If you create a benevolent god, the simultaneous creation of a malevolent devil is implied.
On Opposite Day, we might think about the ancient contradictions. There are: darkness and light, female and male, chaos and organization, curved and straight, left and right, north and south, plus west and east.
Just as there is western philosophy, we have eastern philosophy. In the East is the concept of Yin/Yang. If a person cuts a whole thing in half, the object’s equilibrium is upset. The two halves begin chasing one another in the process of seeking a new balance and harmony once again. At its core Yin/Yang is a visual metaphor. Yin means “shady side” and yang means “sunny side”.
We can contemplate this passage from the Tao Te Ching:
“When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created.
When people see things as good,
evil is created.
Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other.”
As we celebrate Opposite Day, we can celebrate the serious side and the frivolous side of the concept of opposite…or not.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the writer and painter Hermann Hesse. “Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin.”