23 April 2012

One Truth, Many Equations

In an interview with Michael Toms on New Dimensions Media, Maya Angelou said something that's been rustling around in my brain for a few days. She said,
Ignorance is the great sin. If we knew more, we would do more. I can't explain why a person who knows right would do wrong. So I'm convinced, then, that the person does not know right. That is to say, a person may say he knows, or say she knows, but they don't really know. They may intellectually have computed that two and two are four, but they have not really comprehended that that also means that eight halves are four, that four ones are four, and all those other combinations of facts which add to the one truth.
This idea struck a chord with me, the multiple ways of explaining one truth using arithmetic. How many of us wanted to be able to get to the answer in math class as students without having to do it in the way the teacher wanted us to do it? It seems that when confronted with something as concrete and eloquently formulaic as mathematics, we accept that more than one way of reaching an answer exists. Yet when bickering amongst ourselves over issues that can be inherently local, biased by our education, our culture, our religion, and our armchair philosophy, as one of my professors liked to call it, we struggle to get others to see our way as the right way.

It is for this reason, this insistence by some groups upon looking at truth through one lens, that I eschew traditional party lines or fundamentalism or most groups and labels in general. This is a life I strive for, to be constantly questioning tradition, and logic, and la mode de la jour. This lifestyle doesn't exactly curry favor amongst those who believe strongly in a set code or faith or party line, those who know exactly what they believe without doubt. People who believe with that much passion and with deep faith in something have a gift of certainty with which I was not blessed. That whole groups of people get to share in those beliefs and fellowship and history is a beautiful thing. However, if no one ever questioned, how would we achieve progress? If we can't explain our own convictions, or if we can't acknowledge that another's convictions may have equal value to our own from a different perspective, then we stall in our evolution to greater enlightenment.

In the book, Conversations With God, we are invited to experience the world through all of the wonder-filled and drab moments that comprise it, as that was the purpose of man. God is everywhere and in all things, so in order to experience these things, God created something--mankind--with an outside perspective, and every one of those perspectives is as valuable to the view of the whole as any other. Maybe it's not a biblical idea, but I like it. We're here to experience life, and it won't hurt too much to help each other along the way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Your comments are Biblical. Check out Marcus Borg, "The God We Never Knew".