TENSION of course can lead to a mighty snap, it can be all too much. That's why tension has to be managed.
A divided society, in the truest sense, is beyond tension- appeals to reason or moderation don’t work in those cases.
The very middle class that is the cornerstone of developed economies’ tax base, the very electorate and spine of 1st World civil society is under pressure. A middle class that is distinguished from the lower class by reaping few or no social benefits and entitlements, but is distinct from the wealthy in that it may be education-rich but relatively asset poor, where income is primarily from wages and not from asset appreciation and capital gains, is really feeling the crunch these days.
There are more barriers to being eligible for debt finance, a mortgage for example, while the relative cost of missing out from rising asset prices gets heavier and heavier. For one, the pain of inflation is felt much more severely if you don’t own assets that also go up, and make it all a subtly cruel economic wash. It is not a doomsday scenario I’m describing, yet the middle is not the quiet, happy place it used to be.
Indeed, in regards to religion it is false to say all religions are declining at the same rate in response to more secularism, more strident atheism in the world today. It is, however, the moderate religions that are the suffering ones, whilst the doctrinally serious faiths are growing. Take as a bellwether the rise of ISIS, a group too extreme even for Al Qaeda's franchising regime. Either you are a hedge fund trader who has the information to make a high-frequency trade a nanosecond earlier than the rest of the pack- or you do not. Either you can afford housing- or you cannot. 12th place or 23rd place was survivable before. Today it is a lot tougher. If you like economics you might invoke the “Middle Income Trap” to discuss polarity in the world.[i] That is the now mainstream theory that developing countries will tend to get bogged once wages rise and the ability to compete with other countries on a strictly low cost position withers away. If you like history you might cite the Girondists, who at the outset of the French Revolution were opposed to the Monarchy but hesitant about the specter of revolution, and were wiped out as a bloody prelude to the wider Reign of Terror; the moderates, of course, are the first losers in any revolution.
If bipolar is bouncing around from pole to pole, tension is calm. Bridges need tension. There are forces acting behind the curtains, according to the laws of physics, and they can be strong forces that act serendipitously against one another. But when the pulling happens in the right way, in the right amounts, from the right direction, a bridge is calm and stable. Bridges are meant to be loaded with tension, their purpose is to hold tension in situ, manage it, and hold it steady. Rather than attempt to be moderate, rather than aim to find the permanence of the middle, I'd rather think rich and think poor, simultaneously, and forever in tension.
Be the spider, walk on water. Embrace tension.
[i] Global Journal of Emerging Market Economies September 2011 vol. 3 no. 3 281-28