By Paul Rourke
Some years ago when our little town of Homer began a discussion on how to improve the traffic intersections, I was surprised to see the discussion quickly break down into two camps: traffic lights vs. roundabouts. Why did such an apparently innocuous subject devolve so quickly into two opposing views? A reflection process of nearly two years has led me to share a few thoughts.
I once read a story in which God was querying man. The question asked by God was, “Do you think my creation is imperfect?”
My initial reaction was “of course,” but then I remembered it was God asking the question. Upon realizing that creation is perfect, followed the realization that my perception of creation was imperfect. (again)
Looking at civilization, we see a great diversity. More specifically, it’s a diversity of opinion. This difference gives rise to the debate between foundationalism and relativism; those who see truth as a concrete reality, and others who see the elusiveness of truth and its shades of gray. There is a spectrum of human thought. It is not simply two camps that are identified as liberal or conservative.
These labels, “liberal” and “conservative,” not only fail to adequately identify the range of views one may possess, but more harmful yet, create obstacles that obscure the truth. Because creation is “perfect,” this diversity must be necessary to adequately arrive at an understanding of truth. Might I suggest that the purpose of apparently opposing views often has little to do with the actual issues, as much as the attitude we take to solve those issues.
The tendency to consider ourselves right while perceiving others as wrong may be the biggest impediment toward their solution. How are we to manifest love to one another if the Creator only gave us one point of view? This is not to imply that there are no concrete solutions to our problems — whether material or spiritual in nature — but that disunity is the greater impediment.
After hearing a brief news story about Russia’s reaction to American intervention in Syria, I was reminded of the knee-jerk reaction one party in our country makes to whatever the other party says or does. This reaction is rarely about truth, but about power.
If the political pundit, preacher, or politician can convince you that he has a unique key to truth in his possession, we are submitting to that power. There is no need to search the truth, as someone else has already done that for us. Do we really believe the solutions we seek will follow party lines or nationalistic posturing?
As the planet evolves toward a global community, we are being challenged to abandon outworn attitudes that pit one group against the other. Thousands of years of societal evolution require that the behavior of a child be replaced by the maturing behavior of adulthood. Just as our understanding of physics evolved from Newton to Einstein, so must the concept of loving our neighbors as ourselves broaden.
What is being suggested is not a loose platitude, but rather requires a complete revaluation of how we treat one another. And, more specifically, how we will be governed.
Paul Rourke is a long-time Homer resident.
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