Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yesterday's Yoke 4/29/09

Choose your companions from the best.

This quotation from W. B, sure kicks at some old and new wounds. I calculate decades have to be used to measure the time it has taken me to learn that lesson. How ,much time have I wasted listening to the dull, talking with the hard-of-understanding, praising the unworthy and trying to show respect for the disrespectable? "Let me count the ways." No, let me not.

Recently, a dear, long time friend (she knows who she is, one of the best) said to me "Why do you insist upon believing that everyone is as intelligent as you are?" The answer is "Because I want them to be. I want them to be more intelligent so that I can learn something."

One of life's frustrating discoveries is that some people actually make a habit, or even a religion, out of not understanding things. It seems that if it doesn't fit into the circle around their toes and noses, they don't want to know about it. They eschew any knowledge that is on the other side of the fence. And so, as a result, are shocked and offended when something happens that they didn't expect or that doesn't fit a preconception. A wise person said "Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often."

Your life is run by ideas. That's a fact. And if they aren't your ideas then they are someone else's and whether you agree with them or not it is well to find out what they are. Not doing that caused a lot of people and businesses to go bankrupt recently. But reason is one of the most useful tools in the shed. Why is it buried?

There are other ways in which we can blind ourselves to that which is true. One is to predesign it. If you make up your mind a head of time what is true and what isn't and then try to live that way, you're on the primrose path. Imagine a scientist with a hypothesis that doesn't hold up under experimentation but who goes ahead and publishes it as if it was a true discovery. That has happened unfortunately. It may be your boat, but if it's sinking, get off of it.

Another, even more insidious way to avoid understanding something is envy. If someone seems more intelligent, some people don't want to be around him because they feel intimidated, It's much easier for some people to stiff arm any degree of wisdom than to admit that someone else has more. That kind of egotism keeps people dolts. It protects them from enlightenment. I believe I have lost comrades for that reason.

I hope I don't quit the field and give up the struggle to get myself and others free from these mental mirages we have created for ourselves, and their effects. Wisdom will force the thinking person to find a tool for expressing itself. From the reactive person wisdom will hide. .I think it is vitally important to our future that we don't go on living in clouds and think we will survive. In the meantime and from now on, I hope it's the best companions I can find who will get my time and attention.



Beth said...

Great entry. As you can imagine, I especially enjoyed your example of a scientist testing their hypothesis, and when unable to prove it, they publish as if they DID prove it. I abhor that sort of thinking, because they're ignoring the whole purpose of research: to prove or disprove a hypothesis. Disproving can be as important as proving, but to publish a paper because you are determined that your hypothesis works, no matter what your research shows, is horribly egotistical and dangerous!

Hugs, Beth

Gerry said...

A lot of this rang true for me as I do think it is a human tendency to react to someone who does not think like you not always favorably, and I also think as a writer it is hard to keep presenting material to the world that is not always accepting, because it is unrealistic to expect instant understanding and rewards. I have seen very talented people retreat into addiction to 'kill the pain' of not being appreciated, a temptation to be sure to which I know I succumb all too often. Food is my poison and my comfort addiction, not alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. I know that my friend who is so busy trying to kill himself has succumbed to a giant rage of some sort at a dull limited life despite all his efforts to remain sober. I know that he will be sorry when this rage is over and he is so much the worse for it, but he could not have been reasoned with when his 'revenge' impulse tempted him to drink again.

Joyce said...

Living in a rural (southern), small town, I am somewhat surrounded by people who think if you are educated at all, you must be snooty or upidity. DB, there are people here who have never been over 50 miles away from their homes. The sad part is, that's OK with them. I love these people and have now been here for many years, but the transition was somewhat like going through a time warp into the past. I can't say it's all bad, but I thirst for information, knowledge, new ideas.
Great entry. Hugs, Joyce