wanderer series: why plus times minus equals minus (+1 x – 1= -1)


courtesy of wikimedia.org

When I learned this arithmetical operation during my elementary school, I questioned why +1 x -1 = -1? Why +1 x – 1 = +1? No one could give me an answer, other than “it is meant to be that way.”

This night, I was thinking about it again. I always believe that something is not merely a coincidence. There has to be a reason, consciously or unconsciously. Our mind is so advanced that sometimes we fail to perceive our thought process completely.

Back to my question, why plus times minus equals minus?
When I tried to dig for the answer, I got this “revelation”. Maybe it’s telling something about our human nature, that it is so easy to slide to our dark side. For example, I am a ‘saint’ girl. Then I am tempted to shoplift. “This is only once,” I say to myself. However, most likely, I will repeat that act. I officially will be a shoplifter.

I brought this subject up into a late night discussion with my brother. He asked me this question, “Ok, so what’s about minus times minus equals plus (-1 x -1 = +1)?”

Wondering again, back to our shoplifter example: I shoplift constantly or even more often. Coming from my personal experience, good luck never accompanies one forever. I will face the bricks on the wall sooner or later. Maybe I am caught dead on, maybe my loved ones hate me because of my shoplifting habit, etc. Negative events can lead me to reflect and rethink, evaluate myself: “who am I? why am I doing this? will I want to be a shoplifter forever?” After that process, I can be myself again, I can turn something bad to something good for myself or for others. I think that human being is blessed to be able to learn in this way, a maze of life. They say, to be a better person, sometimes you have to fall first.

So I replied to my brother, “I think that it (-1 x -1 = +1) symbolizes hope.”

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