We live in a world where we are so swift to draw swords at the whiff of words that smell afoul to our own liking, that those who may dare to assert their opinion are preemptively pummeled into inaction. The real casualty, however, is in the loss of truth; because, well, some things are just complicated.
Let me expand.
Have you ever been in a situation, let’s say a car ride with co-workers or new friends that you are still getting to know, and in the midst of mainstream conversation, a comment steers the subject towards something political and then the loudest words you hear are the unspoken thoughts of everyone in the car who is waltzing around the controversial topics in a deliberate, group maneuver that everyone present seems to know well through frequent use?
When the conversation starts exiting the highway of platitudes and veers towards more twisting and winding roads of our current society (discrimination, gender, equality, personal rights, lawful obligation, sexuality), everyone in the car* seems to know exactly how to quickly turn the steering wheel of conversation back towards the safe, shallow highway and away from these more complicated roads.
*Note: this evasion is exactly opposite on the digital platforms.
Why is that?
Why is it that the mass majority of us find ourselves reflexively evading the topics we feel so strongly about?
You may say, “Well, duh, it’s because it’s taboo.”
To which I would respond, “Well, why is it taboo?”
Part of the reason seems to be that we have collectively sacrificed freedom of speech on the altar of convenience. In other words, we have changed the climate of conversation and the natural, human desire to search for truth by not tolerating anything that goes beyond the (ever-restricting) border of the “politically correct”. And why is that vast expanse beyond the “politically correct” border not tolerated?
Because, well, it’s complicated.
When we do take that plunge in personal conversation (or anonymously online) and start digging into the surface of current issues, we are SO quick to box in, in the back of our minds, the other person in the conversation as Right or Wrong. As Right or Left. As Liberal or Democrat. As Black or White. As Open-Minded or Closed-Minded.
And this boxing in, this (almost) instant and reflexive summation of the other person’s worldview, IMMEDIATELY blows the flame out of that which ignites ceaselessly within each of us:
THE DESIRE OF TRUTH
And, what we really need to know is:
Many times, the TRUTH is not as simple as it seems…..
PAUSE: If you are thinking to yourself, “I know where this is going, and it is just an excuse to validate your philosophy” or “WRONG – the truth in all of these situations is plainly obvious. No question.”, just think about this with me for one moment:
Let’s think about a chair. Your chair. The chair you may be sitting on right now reading this. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume it’s an ordinary, black-cloth office chair that you could likely find at your local Walmart.
Looking at the top of the chair and gradually working our way down the chair, we may first see a basic headrest, perhaps a back (or lumbar support system), a couple of arms topped with armpads, connected at the bottom to a flat seatpad, which is supported underneath by maybe a lever or two that allows you to adjust the height and/or the lean, which then progresses down to a chair cylinder, a chair cylinder cover, a chair base, and some casters (wheels) that, as we all know, are notoriously stubborn.
Pretty straight forward.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the black cloth on the flat seatpad of the chair, for example.
If we look closely, we will see that the black cloth displays a basic woven pattern that reinforces the tensile strength of the fabric (which is likely nylon) as a whole.
Upon even further inspection, if we could zoom in to see the individual nylon fibers that compose the fabric, we would see the final composition of a carefully-combined chain of monomers (the chemical building blocks which make up polymers) which, when combined with 2,000,000,000 other monomers, make up about a 1 cm length of this nylon thread.
If we could fathom zooming in even further on this 1 cm length of nylon thread to see these molecules that compose nylon, we would see that a single molecule is actually composed of tiny atoms that are brilliantly and uniquely arranged.
But what is an atom? If we could put a microscope within a microscope within another microscope to zoom in further still, we would see that an individual atom is a fascinating portrait of protons, neutrons and electrons that are somehow held together in a way that makes them a stable and SUPER tiny piece of matter that serves as a building block for EVERYTHING.
I repeat: EVERYTHING – no matter how simple, how dull, how plain a thing may appear, everything breaks down to this infinitesimally tiny atom.
“Okayyyyyyyyy………..and your point is?????”
Well, it doesn’t end there either. It gets a little more complicated even still. Because an atom is this lively little particle that has electrons rapidly speeding around the central nucleus of protons and neutrons.
And the crazy thing about these electrons is, we never actually know where an electron is at any given time because they are SO tiny and SO fast that WE CANNOT EVEN SEE THESE PARTICLES THAT MAKE UP EVERYTHING WE KNOW (Heisenberg uncertainty principle anyone? There’s a nostalgic taste of sophomore year of high school for you).
Ok, I’m done. You catch my drift by this point.
But just in case you don’t……………………..
Zoom ALL the way back out from atoms to molecules, to polymers, to 1 cm of nylon thread, to the chair seat cloth, and to the entire chair itself. How does a chair even effectively hold you in place?
By this powerful, universal force that we still don’t even really understand – gravity.
And you see? All of this to explain a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of something as unassuming as a desk chair.
So, the next time you hear a trigger-word or phrase that beckons you internally or externally to defend yourself in an ever-more-popular politically-charged debate, just remember:
Many times, the TRUTH is not as simple as it seems…..
And pay little attention to the so-called experts (a lot of times, the “experts”, in reality, not only have no idea what they are doing, but have collectively not even scratched the surface of their realm of expertise), and provide a lending ear to a casual acquaintance, because there is likely a deeper component to any controversial issue at hand.
And when people use conversation and the sharing of ideas as a mutual platform in search of the truth, only then is real progress made…