I started this post, stopped and deleted, then started again. I am still unsure if I really want to talk about this in such a public forum as I worry (though I shouldn’t) that it is taking things in a direction I have tried to avoid. I am as preachy as anyone else, often sure of my position and confident in the correctness, the rightness of my thoughts. I have surely said things, believed things, that in retrospect have been foolish. I hope that I have tempered that certainty with a willingness, an ability to be wrong. Accepting and being comfortable with a mistake is not always an easy thing, especially when it comes to something you were passionate about.
Sometimes we become so certain, so convinced of an idea or a set of beliefs that we become obsessed. Our entire lives become wrapped up in them and regardless of evidence to the contrary, we cling to our certainty, clutch it so tight that we become irrational.
Several experiences lately have put this into such stark clarity for me. I have come across instances that have confirmed to me that sometimes, we are so certain of our version of a truth that we see devils everywhere. I am trying to be careful when I use the word truth. I have a hard time with that word in general, so much that even typing it here makes me want to explain and expound over and over how flawed that concept seems to me. Regardless, it fits the bill today and gets the point across quite cleanly.
It would be wrong of me to describe the specific examples I have seen and I am not comfortable calling out anyone for falling into this trap. All of us at some time or place have done it. When I was going through my atheistic stage, all I could see were people trying to force God down my throat. It was all I could see, everywhere and in everything. Simple acts of kindness on the part of someone religious were taken out of context, distorted and exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. There are those who see racism, sexism, in everything and everyone. Like a Police officer seeing everyone as a criminal, this kind of thinking paralyzes us, limits our opportunities and stunts our ability to learn and grow. Again, in my own life, I became convinced of the evils of anything related to governance that I only saw flaws in my own country. I wound rant and rave at the drop of a hat and I made an ass of myself on several occasions. Some of the memories are still embarrassing.
I think it is good to challenge our beliefs, what we think and why we think it by asking ourselves simple questions. It is an old cliche’ but remembering to ‘question everything’ feels right to me. Always question things you don’t understand or agree with, but what is harder and more important is questioning things you do understand and especially things you completely agree with. I think this is key and the essence of an open and free mind.
There is plenty enough in our world to be worried about, fearful of without adding to it.