Philosophy Tuesday

Many of the lessons we learn early in life are of the quite black and white variety – hard fast rules that never vary.  Touching that hot stove is always going to cause a burn. Leaning too far over will always cause you to fall.  Even the social lessons we tend to learn are quite fixed, for those around us to observe and to learn from are quite limited, and hence present a rather unchanging universe.

So it comes as no surprise that, very quickly, we get the sense that the world consists, solely, of things that only ever operate one way.  There are TRUTHS and RULES, that are KNOWABLE and USABLE.  This gets reinforced even more as we begin school, and we’re literally graded and judged by how well we learn these inviolable FACTS.

And there is, indeed, many things that do operate within rather strict rules: physics*, math, chemistry, and that harsh mistress of gravity (that, natch, is also part of physics…).

Yet there is a whole lot more that does not even come close to being fixed or knowable, chiefly, 7 billion more things, and all the ways that these 7 billion things interact with each other.  People, of course, and our societies, norms, manners, systems, cultures, memes, ethos, nations, traditions, customs…

All not bound by any strict and inherent rules of the universe.

And never mind the 7 billion, this also affects the one.  So quickly, when we meet someone, can we, so eager to continue that notion that things are governed by TRUTHS that we can KNOW and they NEVER CHANGE, decide so much about that person and never give them a chance to be any other way.  Our first thought becomes (our) reality.  We limit them, grant them scant space to transform or broaden or to even have a bad day.

Nor ourselves.  For if things are fixed and knowable, then so must be I.  And with that background, we can anoint ourselves with all manner of unproductive TRUTHS, and any growth faces the extra hurdle of overcoming the impossible: changing the fundamental nature of the universe.

When we can be with that there exists both fixed RULES of the universe, and that there equally exists “rules” and “laws” made from our collective minds, we gain exceptional freedom.  In that space, we become an active weaver of our lives and of our societies, engaging in the work to craft a wonderful quilt of life.


* And even our traditional view of physics and similar laws tend to break down and not be so absolute at the various extremes…