What happens when our knowledge is challenged and our surety is no longer secure?
We are a funny creature, us humans. We are so sure of ourselves: what we believe; how we want to live; who is politically right and how the world should really be governed, are all things we consider ourselves authorities on, even if we lack substantial knowledge in some areas.
We stand on what we believe, but do we ever stop to think about
what we believe, and why we believe it so staunchly?
I’m talking here about multiple aspects of our lives: our beliefs regarding politics, culture and faith particularly – the core elements that distinguish us from others. What if, for a split moment, our knowledge base was challenged? What is our response, and how will it affect our lives?
Even more so, what if this challenge to our knowledge unveils a potential truth we had not seen, and everything we’ve founded our lives upon comes into question?
I’ve been pondering these questions for the past few days because I recently attended a 2 day conference that focused on aspects of my faith that I had not really thought about before. In fact, some information that was revealed, showed up my signifcant lack of knowledge in areas that I thought I knew enough about to establish what I believe in.
Hm. I can tell you now, that this was not something that I anticipated, hence my questions above.
So then, what is an appropriate response, when someone reveals information to you that significantly challenges what you believe to be true? Again, let’s not just consider aspects of faith or religion here. Let’s consider science, politics and general cultural norms. Things we base our society on.
Of course we have options.
We can flatly reject this new information if it does not resonate with our core understanding. And that is entirely an acceptable choice. Sometimes we learn new things and can quickly disprove them, or can easily see that it does not connect with our personal paradigm and there is nothing wrong with that. I am not encouraging us to change with the wind and believe something just because it’s entered our sphere of understanding.
However, I am a big believer that if something is truth, and I’m wrong in my initial assumptions, I will come across additional information that will help me see where I am missing key elements in my knowledge. It will still then be my choice as to whether I integrate this new knowledge or not.
Additionally, we have two other ways to respond. We can choose to blindly believe everything we’ve just heard, or like any scholar worth their salt, we can mine this new information: delve into it, break it apart and discover the core of it, seeing how it lines up with our paradigms.
Do we trust ourselves enough to accept that at some point in our belief system, and again, I’m not just talking about religion or faith, but in any area of major mind set that we have, we may come across new information that reshapes our thinking, and in some cases, replaces it? Will we grow more quickly? Will we learn to appreciate another’s point of view more readily?
Perhaps we will learn to acknowledge that we haven’t got all the answers yet, and that this is an okay place to be?
All I know at this point, is that my life is built on the foundation of discovery. It is vital to my core understanding of life, that I make regular efforts to learn things that I don’t understand and to allow information that may seem contrary to my paradigms, to enter into my thinking, even just for a little while, in order to ensure that I don’t miss something life changing. I have my brother to thank for this. He questions things and allows himself the opportunity to learn from another’s point of view and it has inspired me to embrace the things that scare me and let discovery take it’s natural course.
But why should we bother with all of this? If we are so secure in what we believe, why go to such lengths to discover more?
This is a brilliant question with an answer that has sewn itself into the fabric of history. If we didn’t allow ourselves to question what we know, we’d still consider the earth to be flat. Trite, perhaps, but you know this is true!
Furthermore, if we can choose to trust ourselves and believe that our minds really are capable of receiving information that we may later reject, and still be okay, then I think we become closer to living a fear-free life.
Free from the fear of getting it wrong.
Free from the fear of being rejected by our peers, our family and friends because we may discover something beautiful that shifts our thinking away from our cultural norms.
Free from the fear of loosing our identity or even our minds when we become torn between what we knew and what we know now.
I’ll leave you with this idea. If at some point, you come across new knowledge, and this information sparks a landslide of questions in your mind, would you consider giving that information a little bit of breathing space so that it can have the opportunity to help you develop?
After all, you’re the only person in control of your thinking. So it’s up to you as to what you accept and what you reject.
So, when it comes, take a moment; take whatever time you need, to mine that information and see if it connects you to a deeper understanding of who you are. Yes it may be a bit scary, but that’s okay. It’s okay to take on new ideas and it’s okay to reject them or even to reject your original understanding and replace it with this new one. It’s your choice, so don’t you owe it to yourself to be open, consider what comes your way and see where the ideas lead you?
For me, I’m going to travel down the rabbit hole and see where it leads. If Alice is brave enough, then so am I.
Thanks for reading,