Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lesson

My Dad once taught me a very important lesson during a phone call. I can remember contemplating the conversation while walking around the Oklahoma City University campus over a decade ago.

I do not remember what we were discussing, but I think I made reference to the verse in the Bible, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

I must have sounded like I was just paying lip service to the concept without any deep degree of understanding as to what it really meant. I will paraphrase what my Dad said below.

"A person cannot be truly non-judgmental unless he thoroughly and consistently considers the fact that he may be wrong."

This idea has been huge in my life ever since. Do we think the same things we did 10 years ago? Probably not. Therefore it follows that 10 years from now, we will look back on ourselves and see that many of the things we believe now are wrong. This leads to an humble opinion....of our opinions.

I am not suggesting that we should not stand up firmly for what we think. After all, knowing that we are all wrong about certain things should give us confidence to engage with others. Nobody is perfect, so put your opinion out there. Rather, our confidence should be accompanied by the consideration that there may be outward factors and inner thoughts and feelings we have not experienced yet, that could change our minds at some point. In short, one can be open-minded and confident at the same time. And the open-mindedness, truly considering that we may be wrong (in fact, that we are almost certainly wrong about something right now!) can lead us to identify with those who think differently. We can realize that we are all on unique journeys of discovery. And the most dynamic part of that journey is interacting with others - sometimes especially those with whom we disagree.

So confidence gives us dialogue, and open-mindedness gives us relationship.

And I think this knowledge - that our knowledge, and even our thinking, is not perfect - leads me to a sense of trust, a sense of faith - because we must have a place to rest at the end of another imperfect day of trying to think better. It is a faith in the truth that is, while we humbly hope that we know it - or that we will know it better tomorrow.


6 comments:

  1. agreed! Dad is proud of you Steve!

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  2. Fantastic sentiment. Reminded me of this recent editorial.
    It's a balance, of course - we need to acknowledge that we may be wrong, but we can't browbeat ourselves constantly over never being right. Perhaps this is yet another reason fundamentalist religion (we're all horribly debased sinners) conflicts with the capitalist zeitgeist (everybody's great). And once again, the middle ground is the most reasonable position.

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  3. I heard not to long ago that this verse had supplanted John 3:16 as the most oft quoted verse in the Bible. It's good to see here that your father has used the verse and applied it in context. It is most commonly used as the lifestyle justification verse, when Matthew truly meant it as a tool to introspect and to understand that only one man was without sin. It is imperative that a Christian understand the significance here and I'm glad to see that you seem to have a good handle on it.

    Nice post.

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  4. Great post, Steven. Thanks for sharing that memory.

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  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

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