I’m tired of hearing all the arguing about who is right and who is wrong—especially about religious doctrines and political ideologies, from Christianity v. Islam to Democracy v. Theocracy, right down to partisan bickering, conflicts within denominations, and even conflicts within congregations and families. Why does everyone feel it necessary to have the final word and definitive answer about everything?
What would better suit me is for everyone to confess proudly to “knowing” what feels right to them as an individual, regardless of how well- or ill-informed they are, however finely or ill-honed their opinions and conclusions–and then everyone respect those personal truths for what they are. It’s perfectly normal to want to test our opinions on other people, and it's perfectly OK to respectfully disagree and discuss, but why do others have to be “wrong” in order that we may be “right”? Why can’t we just all be right for ourselves alone, or, just-as-right-if-incomplete, as anyone can ever be in this best of all possible worlds?
Why don’t we all just humbly accept that we are destined to live and die with great mysteries and uncertainties, and that we weren’t meant to know very many things with any great deal of clarity? We can still pursue understanding, but it's more fun when we realize that whatever it is that God intends for us to do and be and have and believe on this earth—a God of each of our personal understandings, and Whoever or whatever we each choose to mean by that Name, or none—it is very evidently not likely that we will ever clearly understand everything, or anything, and will certainly never all come to the same conclusions. That doesn't mean we cannot live our own faiths, our belief systems, our personal ways of knowing and seeing, even if we can't convince everyone (and sometimes, even ourselves) that “they” are wrong and “we” are right.
It must be evident by now to most people, in this great information age, that God, if (S)he exists at all, only offers tempting bits and controversial hints about His/Her/Its workings and nature and identity, not to mention those of mankind and the universe. Certainly each of those tidbits and partial answers leads to greater wisdom, but also to ever more questions…. The Bible and the Koran, for instance, are only the beginnings of discussion, not its end, as evident from all the conflicts and disagreement mentioned above.
To claim to “know” something, or anything, with any finality, seems the merest hubris, disrespectful even to God and his ineffable creation, and to all the other humans who invariably will come to some other conclusions. Certainly one sign of a well-educated person is that they finally have learned enough to realize how little they really know about anything.
To be sure, some scholarly inquiring types spend lifetimes educating themselves about particularly intriguing aspects of reality, and certainly we can listen to their viewpoints more attentively than to others, and to better purpose. But even then, we owe respect to everyone’s story, regardless of their expertise and talents or lack of same, if only for the peculiarity and uniqueness of their experiences and understandings, for their particular dreams, their one-of-a-kind strivings, victories, and holy lost attempts.
But why ever hope to find one unique and particular version of wisdom and experience which is generalizable to everyone, whether in the field of politics, religion, philosophy, or any other field of knowledge? Why not just celebrate our own unique versions of truth, and those of others?
No one can doubt the veracity of each uniquely individual experience and its conclusions, at least for that one person, however fatally flawed the limitations inherent in being only one person, with only one person's experience and understanding, and only a highly fallibly human capacity to communicate, to boot. We can always safely rejoice instead in the universal commonality of ultimately not-knowing, and live joyfully within such uncertainty and risk, supporting every human effort to grapple with understanding and sharing of personal truths—without setting ourselves aggressively into opposite camps that polarize attempts at communication and turn them into contests of rightness and wrongness.
Especially in religious, philosophical, and political discourse, we can spend less time divided among our many differences, and instead celebrate and focus upon our many commonalities—all the universal truths upon which we can all agree, all that unites us, such as love, hope, faith (wherever we choose to put that faith), respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness, hard work, spiritual practice, community, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, purity, selflessness, peacefulness…and the rest of the long list of good things we can all agree upon which goes on forever. These ecumenical values, in all their various positive permutations and versions, can always be communally embraced, taught, admired, built upon, and warmly shared among people of all faiths and ideologies, or of no faith or ideology. Then, instead of forever being self-righteously “right”–that is, wrong–we can celebrate and embrace one another's uniqueness, and…just get along.
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