A simple explanation of the word paradox in the Cambridge English Dictionary: A situation or statement that seems impossible or is difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts or characteristics.

It is a statement that seems contradictory but when examined closely, it may have a simple, underlying truth. Though it appears to be going against common sense, it seems to be true. It states a truth. It may appear as a riddle or it may seem like a question of logic.

That’s an explanation that, to me, seemed simple enough to explain what a paradox is. But for my eleven-year-old granddaughter, it was hard to comprehend. It made no sense to her. Her first introduction to paradoxes had come from hearing certain references from the Bible in sermons or Sunday School. It could be difficult for some older ones too, to understand these paradoxes. Here are some from the Bible:

7 Paradoxes From The Bible.

Exaltation through Humility (Philippians 2:8-9) (Mark 9:35) (James 4:10)

Strength through Weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Receiving through Giving (Acts 20:35)

Freedom through Servitude (Romans 6:18)

Gaining through Losing (Philippians 3:7-8)

Finding through Losing (1 Samuel 9:3-20)

Living through Dying (John 12:24)

I tried to make it easier for her by finding quotes that, I thought, would be easier to explain to her with simpler examples. I enjoyed this exercise because I found some that made me laugh too. Here are a couple she found easier to understand.

Carl Sandburg: “There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”

Neil Armstrong: “That’s one small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind.”

While I was foraging for simple examples and explanations, I came across this explanation of the paradoxical territory in which priests/ministers work:

“Paradox is a wild territory within which most ministers live and work!

“We See unseen things.

We Conquer by yielding.

We find Rest under a yoke.

We Reign by serving.

We are made Great by becoming small.

We are Exalted when we are humble.

We become Wise by being fools for Christ’s sake.

We are made Free by becoming bondservants.

We gain Strength when we are weak.

We Triumph through defeat.

We find Victory by glorifying in our infirmities.

We Live by dying. “

And with that I sign off with these literary paradoxes:

“Men work together whether they work together or apart.” -Robert Frost

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”-George Orwell

“Death, thou shalt die.” -John Donne

“I must be cruel to be kind.” -William Shakespeare

And before I sign off, here’s a Hindi one which is often used for our politicians!

‘Padha likha unpadh.’ The literal translation is – ‘An educated illiterate.’

3 thoughts on “Paradox

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