Does it every annoy you to meet someone that isn’t confused? Have you ever met someone that was completely confident in all their assertions? When I was a boy, it seemed to me that adults knew things. They didn’t believe things they knew them. They didn’t seem confused about life to my eyes then, but it was a farce. The things I was sure of when I was a boy, I am unsure of now. Odd how deeper knowledge of the world brings not “enlightenment” but an obfuscation. As I continue to learn about life will I eventually cross through the nebula and find some clear air, where I can rest assured of something? Or will deeper knowledge always lead to deeper confusion? Will I just become set in my ways one day when I’m in my 30’s or 40’s?
There are a lot of subjects in life that I’ve adopted a cavalier attitude about. Most of these subjects are polarizing ones: Christianity & religion-in-general, gay rights, relationships, abortion, politics, etc. I’m afraid I’ve become something of an “Idea Hipster”. I rarely agree with the mainstream perspectives on any subject, and I constantly find myself off in the margin. It’s an alienating feeling. The most polarizing issues in our society tend to be very, very complex. How could 314 million (US) people possibly come up with only two different sides? Everyday I become a little more frustrated with “Bumper Sticker” politics, theology, and ideas-in-general. There is literally no perspective about life that can be boiled down to fit comfortably into a pithy phrase or quote, but people want to live simple lives and keep clean ideas in their minds. People want blanket solutions to complex problems, and poetic answers to cosmic questions.
The problem, perhaps, is that people aren’t using their imagination. Is it a new problem? I don’t know. Maybe we’ve all stopped using our imagination and allowed the internet, TV and radio to imagine things for us. Or maybe the world has always been full of people who have never had their paradigms challenged, and have never had to wade through an uncomfortable shift in their perspective. Shifts in perspective are always uncomfortable, because they don’t often arrive in the form of revelations or epiphanies, but through slow labor and mulling. It is an aversion to pain and change that keeps men and women from using their imagination, to placing themselves in the positions of others. Truthfully, though I decry their stubbornness, I understand it completely. And I do not think I could, in good conscience, ask someone to go through the pain of change, even if that is what is necessary for everyone’s health and sanity. Why? Because, perhaps ironically, I don’t think I would like that myself. Change is such a voluntary and internal process that even the slightest challenge to a persons point-of-view can cause him/her to go into lock-down mode.
If there did exist a single phrase that could sum up the solution to the all the world’s problems, I think it would be this: “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”.