Saturday, May 7, 2016

Rigidity (And So It Goes . . . )

There are all sorts of people in this world

But for purposes of this discussion, I have limited/divided them into two categories –

1) People who are rigid in their thinking.

2) People who are not.

* * * * *

I grew up in a conservative Christian home.  I have been a Christian all my life.  My church taught me WE are right.  WE have the ‘TRUTH’.  Agree with us or suffer eternal damnation in HELL.  So there.  ‘Nuf said.  Period.

And then I was married for 22 years to a man who said, “well, of course, you’re entitled to your opinion.  But, of course, it’s wrong.”
* * * * *
I have fought against these mentalities all my adult life.

Our teenage Sunday school class was taught by our minister.  Many times his lesson for the day included these words, “and we believe blah, blah, blah”.  I, my boyfriend, and his best friend, were the only ones who frequently raised our hands and said, “but what if . . .”, “what about . . .”, “how come . . . ”.  Most of the rest of the class just sat and listened . . . respectfully.
* * * * *
In the course of my life, which is rather circumspect in some respects I admit; nevertheless, I have met people from various walks of life, various ethnic groups, various philosophical persuasions.  My ten years or so attending the Unitarian Church in Nashville was enlightening on many levels.  People from a variety of religious backgrounds came together joyfully and respectfully and shared their experiences and beliefs.

Always I learned something from my reading and/or experiences.  Often what I learned was there is much that I don’t know.  Watching science programs showing the earth in relation to the sun, the moon, other planets, our solar system, our universe . . . one of many . . .  Planets and stars that are MILLIONS of light years away . . .

It has made me very humble.
* * * * *
Humble about what I believe about anything.  Especially compared to others.

My faith is strong; my faith is precious to me.  It has served me well; very well.  It works for me.  I am blessed.  And grateful.

Of course, my faith has changed through the years.  I would like to think my faith has matured as I have physically and mentally matured.  But maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part.

Whatever it is, I know that I am comfortable being who and what I am.  At last.  It took fifty years but twenty more have now passed and I realize I am pretty much who I’m going to be.  And that’s okay.

Because part of who and what I am is someone who believes in keeping an open mind.  To the extent of my ability and knowledge at the time, I use logic and problem solving techniques to arrive at my conclusions.  Note I said ‘extent of my ability and knowledge.’

All those things I said mostly I don’t know about? Lots of them are things I have no interest in.

If I DO have an interest in something, I check into it – read/research – until I satisfy my curiosity.  For that time, anyway.  Maybe later, I’ll find a reason to check further. Maybe later I’ll learn something that will change my mind – again.

* * * * *
Because my faith is precious to me, because I realize how little I really ‘KNOW’ about so many things – I must assume another’s faith/philosophy is just as precious to them.

I don’t mind if you don’t see things my way.  Why should you; you’re not me.  What I think and do is right for me.  It doesn’t follow in my train of thought that what I think and do MUST be right for you.

That is for you to decide.

If you and I are having a discussion – about anything (well, almost) – when I state my opinion, it is always from the perspective of what I know now, what I have heard/read/experienced – so far.  It is not written in stone.  I may learn something tomorrow that will change my mind.

I won’t, however, necessarily change my mind today because of something YOU tell me.  I am a skeptical optomist  – about everything I see and read and hear.  The result of the world/technology we live in.

People that understand this – who ‘get it’ – who may be the same kind of thinkers themselves – are not offended by this.

People who are rigid – do not.

Some of the people I love the most fall into this latter category.

They get offended if I don’t agree or understand their point of view.  Some of them talk condescendingly . . . or worse . . . as if they are scolding their child.
* * * * *
On a similar note, why is it that some people are offended if you ask questions?  I am a question asker.  It’s one way to understand, to learn.  If I ask you a question, I am not questioning your authority/knowledge, I am trying to understand.  Sometimes I rephrase and say, “do you mean blah, blah, blah?”  Often, I am interrupted, impatiently, with additional information/explanation that I wasn’t understanding in the first place.

And so it goes . . .