The Negative

As long as the negative is confused with ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ and the positive with ‘good’, it is impossible to understand that the negative is necessary to open a path to a good life. Where uncritical yea-saying, carrying on as usual, and patient waiting and hoping have led to upholding of intolerable conditions – in partnerships, families, the workplace, volunteer work, but also in global politics or on behalf of state-economy-relations -, a negative decision is needed to move on. 

Such cuts are usually avoided out of fear of hurting someone, damaging a relationship, or even risking its end; or out of fear of jeopardizing a laboriously maintained balance of power.

A „no” is necessary, for example, where gifts, once freely offered, have developed into a form of entitlement, as if the person who was previously given something for free suddenly claims a right to it. This often happens in relations with adult children or in a partnership. To stop giving without asking anything in return, makes possible the freedom that negotiations and exchanges afford and allows us to reclaim the choice between giving and exchanging.

If I stop giving advice and encouragement to a friend who regularly unloads her sorrows and worries on me, but does not really want to change anything, I feel relieved and no longer frustrated. My „no” may lead her to do something or at least look for advice from someone she sees as a figure of authority and whose advice she will take seriously. To leave a job or a voluntary commitment instead of continuing only half-heartedly may be necessary to get back in touch with my desire and find out what I really want to do.

Examples of a fertile „no” in the political sphere are the „no” of the people of the Kaiserstuhl region (south-western Germany) to nuclear power plants, which actually prevented the construction of a station in the German Wyhl, or the „no” of the Icelandic government to meet the banks’ requirements during the financial crisis.

Forgetting and discarding too, are necessary aspects of the negative, if space has to be created for new things, particularly while cleaning up.

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