I have spent a lot of time reading, writing and reflecting on what others think on the question of how we get the ideas we believe to be true. From where do we get the ideas we hold so tightly? Why does one person believe one way and other person believe another way and both believe each other wrong—and sometimes with such conviction that the other person is not only wrong but utterly and completely evil.
It appears that on a very practical level no one believes there is no such thing as truth because even if they want to they struggle with reconciling how their statement could be true given its internal self-contradiction. But again, the world of social media, newspapers, radio, TV, etc. etc. there seems to be shared consensus in something as true even if there is radical, sharp and complete disagreement as to what exactly is “the truth.”
What gave shape to the beliefs I hold? You hold? We hold? I have convictions. I have beliefs about the world, the purpose of life, the future, what will happen when my short life is over… I have certain views on the way I believe our shared life should be lived together in my immediate family, community, State, Country and world. And so do you!
And we both have also had our beliefs (to varying degrees) challenged within the crucible of relationships – albeit some of these relationships have been with folks who are dead and we can only do our best to understand what they meant by what they wrote. Sometimes I find my mind is confronted so strongly with a new way of thinking about something that my beliefs are seemingly completely altered.
I sort of feel a little sorry for the person who has never had the experience of looking back and realizing what she or he held so strongly ten years ago is now understood differently. It is now either completely rejected or the belief is nuanced slightly so as to allow for the possibility of friendship with someone who does not believe accordingly.
Other times I find certain beliefs all the more solidified. And very often I am almost convinced but not completely so I will continue the conversation. Even more often I will find myself wondering if there is not a way to reconcile what seems to be something that is irreconcilable or perhaps allowing there to be tension while the focus shifts to what might, at the time, seem more important or vital.
I think there is a certain level of discomfort in pushing pause from time to time and truly backing up to examine why we hold something so dearly. There is a level of discomfort in listening to another person’s view of reality with a goal of learning, challenging one’s own current views and, even when disagreeing, walking away with the belief in the possibility that I might be wrong, we both might be wrong, we both might be right in certain and unique ways but that above all we will cherish the dialogue and we will force our small minds to restrain the demonization of the other in our pursuit of truth, pursuit of justice, pursuit of what we believe a better community and world would look like because, above all, our seeking to understand rather than seeking to be understood allows us all to grow and realize the beauty, even if in some small way, a love that surpasses all understanding.
And in such a context we are forced to make a decision but we do so ever so aware that our decision may in fact not be the right one. We make a decision in the confidence of today realizing tomorrow may come with a strong dose of humility. Yet, it seems to me, that this context also allows for a lot of grace, forgiveness and reconciliation as it is, again, rooted in a common desire, pursuit and realization of (at least to a degree) that love from which the decision was made.
I have no desire to serve my family, my community, CleanTurn, She Has A Name or our State without wrestling through these things accordingly. For this reason, I am very grateful for the friendships I have as they are, over time, becoming as diverse as the world of ideas and beliefs can be.
Join me at my Birthday Party on March 16th as we celebrate our shared life together and the pursuit of the common good!