Seeing more than two options

We humans seem limited to or cursed by binary vision. No matter how complicated a situation or problem, we see at most two options.

Some see only one option or answer, and the rest see an opposing option or answer. Few, if any, see both options as plausible or see other options as better than either of the first two.

This, of course, is a good recipe for gridlock. And it is not only in D.C. where this happens.

One example close to home is the dispute over the Pioneer Village Museum on the State Fairgrounds. You’d think the good people of North Dakota and Minot could work this out to the satisfaction of both sides and everyone.

But no, at least not as of this writing. The North Dakota State Fair Board wants the Ward County Historical Society to move their village museum off the grounds, to make room for fair expansion.

Historical Society volunteers have completed repairing some of the flood damage and are working on further repairs, and they would like to move the little old red school house in on the foundation that was completed for it a while back.

That’s where the matter stands. It may go to court.

It’s hard not to see the State Fair folks as the cruel landlord trying to evict the poorly funded village museum from where it has been for many years. It’s similar to area families being priced out of, or in effect evicted from, apartments and homes they have lived in for years.

There must be other ways of seeing it. However, as a human afflicted with binary vision, I have trouble doing so. One way, I suppose, is to see the village standing in the way of progress. But then it is a museum, helping us see were we came from, reminding us of those who went before so that we can better appreciate the progress we have achieved over the years.

So it does seem to be mainly an either/or situation: the past or the future. Of course there is the present, an obvious third option. Can’t we find a way here in the present to honor our past and to build on that past to extend our city and state into the future?

A YES answer to this question can lead out of the binary standoff. A NO answer can lead to a court date. I think the parties involved can do better than the negative answer.

It seems simplest to leave the village where it is at. If it must move, it has to go somewhere, and the Historical Society does not have the funding for a move, even if land is donated.

The option of destroying it, razing it, would be worse than the actions of a cruel landlord. It would be dishonoring our ancestors, our past.

And it would be dishonoring all those who have volunteered time, effort and money building and maintaining this memorial to those who underwent life and death hardship in pioneering our way of life.

(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily?News)