You know, if we're all honest...it really does give us a sense of superiority, a little, a little pride, maybe some small feeling of validation, when we're very confident that we're right about something, and that the "other person" is wrong. Sometimes that "other person" is a vast SEA of people, entire populations of countries, human beings standing up opposed to your "knowledge" as far as the eye can see. And somehow, even though we're not apt to admit it, we can stand facing all of those fellow human beings utterly convinced that we, with all of our "special" revelation, are the one that is right, and they...are either "unenlightened" and ignorant, stupid by choice, "deceived" by some supernatural force, or delusional. Yet here we stand, in opposition to vastly more minds than what we see behind us...convinced of our "rightness." The arrogance of it is so profound, it almost escapes words.
I think that I can probably be a rather arrogant person. I am, very likely, overly confident in my intellect." Oh, don't get me wrong...I'm well aware that there are many people far more intelligent. It's certainly not that I think I "know everything." In fact, the older I get, the more sure I am of how truly little I know. The older I get, the more easily the words, "I don't know," roll off my tongue. Perhaps...just perhaps...that is the first step out of intellectualism, into wisdom.
Last night I dreamed of this. I woke, only for a few seconds, thinking, "I must remember this." But then it all drifted away under a blanket of warm exhaustion. All that was left me when I awoke, was this impression of what I now write. A vague, fleeting, foggy impression. But as I sit here, morning coffee in hand, my mind swells with thoughts of this paradox. The more I know that I do not "know," much of which I used to proclaim to know...the more that I truly know, that I don't know very much at all.
I look at this from a couple of perspectives...in my journey from Christian fundamentalism, to atheism...almost, for me, like two sides of the exact same coin. Oh sure, at once I could provide "evidence" through human scientific discovery...at the other end, I could provide "evidence" by human faith...faith...the "evidence" of things not seen. I chuckle at it now, finding it both desperately sad, and just downright desperate.
On the other hand, scientists at one time held many theories, that for some, became personal beliefs, that were later proven to be scientifically wrong. At one time geologists were all wrong about the origin of continents. They thought the earth was a solid object. Now they believe that the earth consists of plates. The theory of plate tectonics has replaced the old theory, which is now known to be false. Science is an ever-growing, changing, dynamic field of study. It is fascinating because it is always disproving itself and, in the process, discovering more "truth." Religion, on the other hand, is an ancient sedentary system of beliefs that tends to scoff at discovery, learning, and the intellect, and often holds to antiquitous ideologies that often have no factual basis, many of which have caused strife, war, hatred, and vile behavior for centuries. Science, however, by its very nature, is open to revelation and correction. I have "worshiped" at both of these altars.
Today...I "know" only one thing. I don't KNOW, with absolute certainty, very much at all. Spiritually, I would probably be considered an agnostic. And you would definitely not be able to paint me with a broad brush by labeling my spirituality as belonging to any particular "prophet" or teacher. I believe in kindness and charity, in honesty and dignity, in compassion and in taking peaceful action to affect positive change in the world around me. Sometimes I am lazy in my actions, but my intent is toward goodness and kindness, and toward loving the other human beings with which I share this planet....because we're all "in this boat" together. I try never to look carelessly at anothers pain, to take delight in their joys, to never belittle someone for their choice of paths through this existence, to empathize with my fellow travelers, and to remain open to learning.
My values are strongly set on this one other thing...
Whereas some atheists and some fundamentalists are set on their own brands of "evangelizing" others to "set them straight," or "show them the fallacies of their beliefs," or even (possibly underlying whatever other "reason" they give for their arguing incessantly the "truth" of their own stance) to show themselves to be "right" and prove the opposition to be delusional, or even to "save" them from their "false beliefs"....I have no such passion. As a matter of fact, I find that such "discussions" and arguments are counter-intuitive to allowing for individual human growth. The greatest teacher of all...is life itself. My journey IS my teacher. Your journey...yours. Our paths may cross, but it is not my "higher calling" to attempt to alter your path. You have everything you need...within you, and around you...to take the journey.
I end this long journal entry with only this, the Socratic principle:
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
It is, in my opinion, not wise to hold too tightly to anything, any person, any belonging, or any principal, without the awareness that the world is constantly changing, in flux, in varying states of decay and renewal. Life is not static.
A stream of motion.....
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