Humanity is a team sport ... but does it have to be this way?
Whose team are you on? This question is supposed to let the questioner know if I am on Trump’s team or Biden’s team; Manchin’s team or AOC’s team; team conservative or team liberal, etc. In this way, the questioner can decide whether I am worth talking to. I get that humanity is a team sport, and I admit that from the very beginning we divided ourselves into warring tribes. But I wonder if it must be this way. Can we have teams that are not at war? Can we have a worldview that steps beyond either/or to both/and?
My friend, media critic, and best-selling author Douglas Rushkoff answers all such questions by saying he is on team human. My answer is a bit more esoteric. I’m on team Möbius.
August Ferdinand Möbius (1790-1868) was an astronomer and mathematician who “discovered” the Möbius Strip. I place the word “discovered” in quotation marks because the same phenomenon was discovered by Johann Benedict Listing a few months earlier than Möbius. Sadly for Johann, nobody talks about the Listing Strip.
If you aren’t familiar with the Möbius Strip let me share with you its common definition:
The Möbius Strip is the simplest non-orientable surface.
If, like me, you have no idea what that means, let me share the common definition of non-orientable:
Something is non-orientable if “clockwise” is changed into “counterclockwise” after running through some loops in it and coming back to the starting point.
That’s from Wikipedia. Still confused? Me too.
The best way to understand a Möbius Strip is to make one. Take an inch-wide strip of paper about 11 inches long. Lay the strip out flat and mark the left end with the letter “A” and the right end with the letter “B”. Then flip the strip over and mark the left end with the letter “B” and the right end with the letter “A”. Take the strip and twist it so that both A are visible. Then place one “A” end on top of the other “A” and fasten it with tape or a stable. Now you are holding a Möbius Strip.
To see why I love the Möbius Strip, take a pencil, pen, or marker and draw a line along one side of the strip. When you are finished you will discover that, without ever turning the strip over, you have drawn a line on both sides and that line ends where it began as if the strip were a single-sided rather than two-sided. In other words, at any given point along the strip the Möbius Strip appears to be two-sided. But when fully grasped, it reveals itself to be one-sided. This is the best physical representation of nonduality I know: duality (two-sidedness) expressed in the greater nonduality of the strip itself.
[Read: “Spirituality and Nonduality.”]
Being on team Möbius means that I have room for differences and diversity: Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, religious and secular, etc. while at the same time realizing that all differences are part of a greater wholeness. Making room for the other as part of the whole is the genius of team Möbius.
I own three metal Möbius strips and place them around my office to remind myself of the nondual reality in which we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:38). I would like to create a Möbius banner with symbols of the world’s religions as well as science printed on it. Such a banner would remind us that all of these are part of the greater wholeness of life, and in this way encourage us not to pit one religion against another or to pit science against religion.
[Read: “Science and Salvation.”]
If you are looking for a team to join, let me encourage you to consider team Möbius. And if you have the skill to create our team banner, please share your creation with the rest of us.
Interested in science & astronomy? Dive into the S&H Archive with our article from 1999: “Science and the Mystery of it All.”