5 Things I Know For Sure

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Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day — Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the first year I spent significant time on Facebook and the experiment opened my eyes. I now know Facebook is best suited for keeping up with family and friends (and occasionally the source of a funny joke). Social media is proof that some ideas never die and that everyone is predictable. Each of us latch onto our beliefs and then push out posts to support whatever belief we have chosen to embrace.

Challenging The Truth

I decided years ago I would challenge my beliefs — because when something is true — it holds up. Truth does not bend or break under pressure and scrutiny. To chase the Truth forces growth and I know if I am the same person today as 40 years ago, four decades were wasted.

What I Know For Sure

This, of course, means, my opinions change. This is especially true with politics. Because of my decision to follow politics in 2015, the year was eye-opening. It changed some of my beliefs.

As the year comes to a close, this is what I know for sure:

  1. Politics Is Confusing By Design. One of President Richard Nixon’s advisors said it best — voters are lazy. Social media proves it. From ‘Impeach Obama’ to ‘spoons make people fat’ (gun violence), the inept arguments and oversimplification of complex issues keep politicians in power and problems unresolved — and it’s the 99% who pays. Since one-liners are the bedrock of conversation-blocking tactics, social media is the perfect medium to keep political dialogue divisive. If voters ever truly understand that the political leaders they elected (Democrat or Republican) have limited (no) interest in ethics and a significantly larger interest in power, voters will begin a dialogue to solve the very real problems in the United States by circumventing the two-party misinformation machine.
  2. You Can’t Change Anyone’s Opinion. This belief miserably fails the popularity contest — especially, I presume, with Americans. We love to believe we have free will (but science says maybe) and that we are open to all beliefs. We like to think we can rise above — or stay with — the truth taught in our youth. We love to believe that we listen to all the evidence, discern what is the most accurate, and then adhere to the most logical truth. In reality, we are born with certain inclinations and then build out the elements of our lives to support that inborn inclination. Often what is perceived as changing another person’s opinion is simply building a structure of support and then corralling a person inside the structure.
  3. Fear And Hate Go Hand-In-Hand. I’ve been lucky enough to meet people of different faiths, races, nationalities and sexual orientation. Although none of the individuals speak for everyone in their demographic, these individuals opened my eyes to the diversity that exists in life. Because of the people I met, my fear, hatred and ignorance diminished. It’s hard to hate a group when you know the demographic as the individuals who comprise the group.
  4. Growth Is Daily Work. Each day is a new beginning. To truly grow, yesterday must be put to bed and tomorrow must wait. Since change occurs in the moment, learning to live in the moment is key. It’s hard, because yesterday and tomorrow are always competing for center stage.
  5. Happiness Is The Way — Not Just A Goal. It’s a no-brainer, but seeing the negative in all things is so, so much easier. My mind zeroes in on an argument’s weakness, a person’s flaw or a moment’s discomfort, but happiness is truly a choice. It’s the decision to live life in the arena — and not from the sideline of what should, could — or might — have been.

Although personally 2015 has been enlightening for me, it has been unsettling politically — with GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump serving as a vocal reminder of democracy’s inherent danger — demagogues.

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Categories: Personal Essays

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