Harmony From Order & Order From Harmony

Order. That word invokes many meanings and many images.

Order as a command. Being directed, or worse mandated, to do something (insert wiggle of disgust, head bobbing of dissent). I’m not fond of being told what to do, and yes, that involves a dislike of authoritative figures. What I particularly loathe is the “pretend decision making”. You know the scene: teachers, braindead and fuzzy eyed after a day with students, sprawled around staff meeting tables as the principal shares their idea and then cheerily states “but let’s brainstorm some other solutions!” After grumbling evolves into some insightful considerations, upon which many of the staff agree, the principal shoves those suggestions aside as though they’re the fuzz-sprinkled tuna found on the bottom shelf in the fridge at the end of June, and says, “We’re doing it my way!” I may hate being mandated to do something but even worse is thinking you have a part to play in the fix when the choice has already been made.

Order as in placing one for a meal. My favourite job during high school was waitressing and my first job was in a fairly generic restaurant lined with formica booths and some heavy wooden tables. Its secret ingredient was being owned by a Greek family that inconspicuously introduced small town palettes to black olives and souvlaki. My personal Pavlovian bell is silver and palm-sized, and when dinging as slammed, is accompanied by a deep voice half-singing “Order Up!” We can order a meal, a book, clothing…almost anything we desire can be ordered…

Order as a form of organizational tidy-ness. Crazy as these may sound, I embrace these principles: Shoes on a rack should all face the same way, clothing in closets is organized by style and colour (short sleeves first from pale to dark, etc), the compost bucket gets scrubbed out after it’s dumped, tools are wiped after use and everything has a home to which it must be returned. So you may now understand why I’m convinced that God has a very deep and dry sense of humour. Why else would He gift someone who believes she has (undiagnosed) OCD with children and a husband with Alzheimers’? My sense of order has definitely been forced to change. The eyeball, heart, and head pains are slightly less as I stare at my table and wonder why, along with two of my daughter’s library books, a couple of flyers, and a piece of wiring meant for the TV there is also a sofa pillow? On. The. Table. I won’t even get into what’s on the kitchen counters and on the chair in the entryway.

Order as in your place. Birth order. Spot in line order. Classification of plants (remember division, class, order, family, genus?) or taxonomy of animals (kingdom, phylum, class, order). Order can be an expected societal order: for example, women can step into the afore mentioned line but they must be after men.

When I put “order” into thesaurus.com how many synonyms do you think surfaced? Five? No, higher. Sixteen? No, higher. Forty-seven synonyms for order!

The one that stood out for me? Harmony.

Order equals harmony. When we have order (classification, structure, procedure, pattern) we create peace and calm. This is only when the order has been created with careful consideration. Would having the cutlery in a drawer in the bedroom, even if perfectly organized into slots, bring peace and calm?

And when that order involves people it not only needs to be created with careful consideration but with input from all parties involved. Just as I loathe being asked to brainstorm solutions when it’s obvious one is already prepared and will be used no matter what I say or think, society needs to stop pretending that everyone is fairly involved in solving issues. If people, like the forks in the bedroom, aren’t even in the same part of the house, how are we to bring peace and calm? How are we to create harmony from order and order from harmony?

I’m not ordering you to do it. I’m not asking you to figure it out, cheerily stating “let’s brainstorm some other solutions!” before I thrust my own at you. I don’t know the answer. I plead again: How are we to create harmony from order and order from harmony?


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Jennifer McDougall

Attempting Serious and Satire... Sometimes successful. Editor, Doctor Funny.