Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Confusion of a Open Mind

I find myself troubled once more about the things that I think I know about the world. It seems that every time I think I understand something, I am handed another piece of information that makes me reconsider. This doesn't necessarily mean that I will change my mind, but it does mean that I have to spend the time to wrap my head around this new information and decide if it is enough to change my perspective. It seems that no matter how much researching or soul searching we do, we are never going to be able know everything on any given subject. There is simply too much information out there and too many ways to access it. 

How then can we hope to cope with so many different subjects that require our opinion, if not our support or opposition? Some it seems don't trouble themselves enough to have strong beliefs, being content to be merely a passenger on this journey of life. Others feel the need for passionate beliefs; but are content to absorb them from political leaders, the media in all of its forms, or the talking heads (sometimes me included) that seem to be fully capable of the perpetual spouting of strongly held beliefs (or something resembling natural fertilizer). Some few however, are in continual turmoil over the questions of life, expending constant effort in what sometimes seems a pointless attempt to keep up with the world around us. 

I think that I can speak with some authority here, as I have gone through all three stages in my life. Having reached this last one some time back, I find that it's hard not to occasionally long for the bliss of being uncaring and ignorant. It was so much easier to live in that place, heedless of the consequences of doing so. I likewise remember with occasional regret, the ease of accepting the wisdom of 'the experts', strident and persuasive voices spouting sometimes flawed logic that led me down a path like the Pied Pipers that they truly were. 

I recognize however that one can never 'unring the bell' and that once the Pandora's Box of curiousity has been opened, it can never fully be closed again. Once we decide to throw off the crutches of such ignorance and follow our own path, we can never return. Difficult as it may sometimes be, we can only hope to remain curious and open to all of the information around us. 

Though it may be a arduous endeavor, I believe today that it's a truly amazing place to be. I hope that I will be up to the challenge of maintaining both that curiousity and the open mind necessary to take advantage of it. While writing this piece, a quote from an unlikely source popped into my head that seemed to put it all in perspective. As often happens, it was from a movie; in this case "Men In Black": 

"Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."


Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Amigo Tim,

Please consider, if only for a moment, these bits (I hesitate to call them bits of wisdom for reasons that will become clear soon enough.)

We, the allegedly sentient inhabitants of this ball of dust flying through the cosmos, are at a point of information overload, thanks to our current state of technology.

This allows anyone and everyone to add to this information (like I'm doing right now) with no regard to the worth/worthlessness of its content, value, truthfulness or accuracy.

Consequently, these words can be taken on faith (or not) as valid, unbiased or true.

We have also reached a point in our existence where many are content to leave the THINKING to others and fall victim to what ever last piece of information we encounter.

Ergo, the problem, as I see it it the willingness of many/most to leave the REAL THINKING to others.

But, many will not take the time to determine the truth/facts for themselves by filtering out the chaff and retaining only what we call that kernel which is TRUTH.

Therefore, simple fools like me, truly wise men/thinkers and media giants/personalities alike are all free to cloud/slant anything/everything we wish to suit our own personal biases and agendas.

The days of reporting "the facts; just the facts" have long since slipped away.

So, until fact, opinion and biases are again clearly separated and understood for what each really is, and we relearn how to critically question and think for ourselves again, we are doomed to fall prey mostly to everything but the truth, as derived from what we unquestioningly accept as unadulterated (and unconfirmed) facts.

(I told you that I hesitated to call this wisdom; for that is up to the reader to determine, if he/she can and will take the time to think about it for themselves...)

(Technically though, I will claim this as my opinion.

And,I leave the determination of the validity of it to the thinkers out there...)

Tim Higgins said...

Amigo Dave,

I believe that you put the case very well. I don't know which worries me more however, the number of people (some would say growing number) who get the beliefs second hand, or whether I or anyone else will be able to find the time to find things out for ourselves.