Assignment 2:4 – The Dangers of Binary Thinking

  1. First stories tell us how the world was created. In The Truth about Stories, King tells us two creation stories; one about how Charm falls from the sky pregnant with twins and creates the world out of a bit of mud with the help of all the water animals, and another about God creating heaven and earth with his words, and then Adam and Eve and the Garden. King provides us with a neat analysis of how each story reflects a distinct worldview. “The Earth Diver” story reflects a world created through collaboration, the “Genesis” story reflects a world created through a single will and an imposed hierarchical order of things: God, man, animals, plants. The differences all seem to come down to co-operation or competition — a nice clean-cut satisfying dichotomy. However, a choice must be made: you can only believe ONE of the stories is the true story of creation – right? That’s the thing about creation stories; only one can be sacred and the others are just stories. Strangely, this analysis reflects the kind of binary thinking that Chamberlin, and so many others, including King himself, would caution us to stop and examine. So, why does King create dichotomies for us to examine these two creation stories? Why does he emphasize the believability of one story over the other — as he says, he purposefully tells us the “Genesis” story with an authoritative voice, and “The Earth Diver” story with a storyteller’s voice. Why does King give us this analysis that depends on pairing up oppositions into a tidy row of dichotomies? What is he trying to show us?


    creation stories


Binary thinking, a mindset that takes related concepts but opposite in meaning, is a form of mental opposition that plays a psychological role in how we perceive what is “true.” Binary thinking imposes each idea into their respective black and white forms of laws and facts. In other words, there is only good/truth (which is rewarded) and bad/falsehood (which is condemned), and nothing in between. This rigid way of thinking forces us to view reality in terms of duality, placing identical elements into opposition, and believing that there is only one correct answer allowed in the world.

King purposely aligned the two creation stories side by side and highlighted the dichotomies involved in order to show the dangers of choosing sides and eliminating all other forms of truth once one’s perceived truth is established. Binary thinking has inherent limits that obstruct one to even own the capacity to consider other essential elements, and in turn, blurs our vision of the world to be one that is limited, intolerant, and biased. King understands that the brain is wired by logic and desire of reasoning, and for humans to process a story that cannot be proven by science is virtually impossible without the use of an authoritative voice to tell the “Genesis” story. This prevents any doubts from rising and in return, contributes to the story’s credibility. On the other hand, “The Earth Diver” story is told in a storyteller’s voice to give it animation and spirit, yet runs the risk of skepticism because of its lack of convincibility. Here is when we make the grave mistake of disqualifying other possibilities in order to entertain just one. Whether or not it is human instinct to lean toward a universe governed by a series of hierarchies as opposed to cooperation, we lose sight of the value that the other holds. And that’s the problem with the elemental structure of Western society: we are fixated and swear by our dichotomies for every decision-making process. Like how the author says, “We are suspicious of complexities, distrustful of contradictions, fearful of enigmas” (King 25).

As difficult as it can seem, being consciously aware that binary thinking should progress in a more circular approach is necessary when broadening one’s scope of life. The challenge is to overcome the toxic “all or nothing,” “this or that,” “me or you” mentality, because reality is certainly richer and more complex than what our recognition of the world proposes.


Works Cited

Hilmar-Jezek, Kytka. “Creation Stories.” Waldorf Homeschoolers. 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 June 2016. Image.

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press Inc, 2003. Print.

Ngo, Robin. “Should We Take Creation Stories in Genesis Literally?” Bible History Daily, 31 Jan. 2016. Web. 17 June 2016.

Schlesinger, Hank. “The Dangers Of Binary Thinking In A Complex World.” Vending Times, 29 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 June 2016.

Assignment 2:3 – Where Do We All Find Home?

Read at least 3 students blog short stories about ‘home’ and make a list of the common shared assumptions, values and stories that you find. Post this list on your blog with some commentary about what you discovered.


This week has given me the pleasure of reading so many of my classmates’ stories of finding home, overcoming hardship, and achieving a sense of belonging. It takes an enormous amount of courage to be upfront and strip bare in order to tell these stories to the world, and I thank you for sharing some of the most insightful thoughts I’ve ever come across. Here are three predominant themes I’ve noticed when it comes to the idea of “home”:

  1. Home is not defined by a geographical location. Initially, I perceived home as a feeling directly influenced by extrinsic attributes of a destination. Upon reading other classmates’ stories, however, I realized that home is actually a state of mind, like how Alanna puts it. To have a place we call home is simply a choice we choose to make, and to make the most of, even in undesirable situations. We push ourselves to learn and grow from the challenges we are born into, and in return, we strengthen our skills of adaptability and use it to our advantage. And through that, the most important thing we retain from understanding that home is all in the mind, is that we become resilient in times of adversity.
  2. Home is a collection of memories and feelings with the people we love most. I think it goes without saying that a home without the people we love and care for (and vice versa) is just another place no different or special than any other. Lorraine talked about filial piety and asked a heartfelt question: “when my family is gone then where is my home?” (Shen). This really struck a chord, because all my life I’ve only lived with my mother, and that’s the only life I’ve come to know. We not only support each other but also heavily depend on one another. My mother is the only person who gave me the memories of growing up, the sole provider of unconditional security and reassurance, the one and only soul most determined to give me a safe sense of home. There is no denying that family and home have an unbreakable bond, and to know that one day I’d have to live without my mother’s physical presence is a daunting thought to imagine.
  3. A sense of home starts from within. Home is a sacred place with stories unique to ourselves, and we live our own stories through time. Time tells us how we’ve evolved through our own set of experiences that give us memories, and ultimately how we’ve used these experiences to achieve our sense of belonging. In Janine’s story about self-discovery and her painful road to finding inclusion, she says “I feel at home when I feel belonging and acceptance; when I feel that my stories are heard and respected; when I feel a sense of inclusion” (Fleming). Our sense of home begins when we recognize our self-worth, when we remember that we are loved, when we exercise our freedom to be whoever we choose to be, and know that no one can ever take that power away from us.


Works Cited

Fleming, Janine. “A “Clueyness” About Exclusion (2.2).” 6 Jun 2016. Web. 15 Jun 2016.

Joy, Alanna. “Assignment 2.2.” 7 Jun 2016. Web. 15 Jun 2016.

Shen, Lorraine. “2.2 Home.” 6 Jun 2016. Web. 15 Jun 2016.

Tattrie Rushton, Heidi. Adapting for furry family members. 16 Jun 2015. Web. 15 Jun 2016.

Assignment 2:2 – My Little Kitsilano Home

Write a short story (600 – 1000 words) that describes your sense of home; write about the values and the stories that you use to connect yourself to, and to identify your sense of home.


I can’t say I ever gave the concept of “home” much of a thought until I recently moved to Taipei, Taiwan to live with my boyfriend for the entire four months of summer. The misery from aching to hold your loved one eventually took over our patience and sanity, so making the temporary move was the most logical step for the both of us. It’s been a full month away from my birthplace (Vancouver), and I admit, it isn’t until now do I realize the value of what I used to see as a painfully familiar and utterly boring home.

My home in Vancouver is a small townhouse of two bedrooms located in the heart of the quaint Kitsilano neighourhood. A one-minute walk to the local all-organic grocery store, a two-minute walk to the bank, a three-minute walk to the nearest bus stop and a ten-minute drive to Kitsilano Beach. Its location is a fifteen-minute bus ride to Pacific Centre, a convenient twenty-minute hop on the 99 b-line away from UBC, and zero minutes away from enjoying both the urban and the serene. Despite all these benefits however, I never learned to appreciate the feeling of being at home. I’ve always despised how depressingly bland my room looked, how quiet every night’s dinner seemed with my mother, how meaningless it felt to spend my weekend nights locked up in a place I’ve grown to avoid. Whenever I could, I would always find a reason to stay out as long as possible; whether that was studying in the library, sleeping over at my best friend’s dorm room or working longer shifts, I never wanted to trudge back home only to face the silence, boredom and loneliness that became inevitable at home. It’s been like this for the past eight years.

It has also been exactly a month since I landed in Taipei. Reunion with my boyfriend is sweet, his parents are the most kind and welcoming hosts, and their home is the most elegantly furnished place I have ever set foot into. There are no complaints. But when they say, “make our home your home,” I know I can’t, and wouldn’t be able to even if I tried. My existence in this space is temporary, my relationship to this space holds no memories of becoming the person I am today, and no matter what anyone says, it is ultimately still someone else’s home where I am not free to be whoever I want to be. I am cautious of my every word and action, and I restrain myself from feeling emotions that may potentially affect others in this house. Now don’t get me wrong, how I feel about living in my boyfriend’s house in no way affects or hinders how I wish to feel and act in front of my boyfriend. In fact, I feel “at home” with him by my side, but just not always necessarily in his home physically. I am incredibly grateful for the warm hospitality I have received thus far, but I can’t help but feel uncomfortable, even when I am alone. There is an intruder in their home, and that intruder is me.

Some may say I think too much, that I am too self-conscious of how other people perceive me, and to that I admit it’s true. This isn’t about putting up a façade, but I do want to leave a positive impression to his parents, and that requires upholding the integrity of social politeness. However the fundamental groundwork of “home,” in essence, is tossing away these pressures of social politeness, and instead, providing the freedom for one to feel and express whatever they wish to feel and express, and simply be whoever they wish to be, at any given time. Home is a place where we keep our happiest (and even ugliest) memories safe, because they represent moments when we are most comfortable and vulnerable, which ultimately means when we are most true to ourselves.

In retrospect, I never truly understood how “home” was supposed to feel until I left it. I was blinded by the familiarity and dullness, and had mistaken it for lifelessness. In reality, it is my mother’s unconditional love that raised me, my messy room that comforts me at night, and knowing that it will always be just my mother and I at our small wooden table during dinnertime that gives me security. Until I can make a home of my own one day, I would only be able to feel all of this in my little Kitsilano townhouse.


Works Cited

Gordon Nelson. Sustainable, Modern Living in Vancouver’s Urban Core. 2016. Gordon Nelson Inc. Web. 5 June 2016. Image.

“Kitsilano.” Tourism Vancouver, 2016. Web. 5 June 2016.

“Taipei is heritage laneways and buzzing nightlife.” Lonely Planet, 2016. Web. 5 June 2016.

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