Love Outside the Box
What is the foundation of your thinking? Statistics and evolutionary psychology say that your worldview and opinions are not as evidence-based as you think they are. People put together their beliefs from pieces of acceptable thoughts found in the sandbox of the community (or tribe) that loved them as they grew up, or that they want to gain love and approval from. There’s something called confirmation bias that says you interpret new information in a way that will reinforce what you want to believe. And what you want to believe, are things that bind you to communities where you find love and acceptance.
This is a helpful insight for our highly polarized times, but it’s also a little frightening—how do I know if I’m ever actually grasping truth or if I’m just aligning with tribes that appeal to me? The fact that everyone is so convicted about the truth of their opposing beliefs, for me, can become stressful, especially when you are so close to some people who think very differently about the world.
It makes me want to do two things. Firstly, I want to stop caring about what positions to hold and shift my focus to how to behave. I have always felt strongly that what you believe about God/the world/other people, etcetera, would connect directly to how you treat people. I can’t see a way around this being the case, but it seems to not always be true. I mean, even I am guilty of not always living in a way that is consistent with what I believe. I had thought that once I got all my beliefs right, that the good behavior would follow, but there is often a dissonance there. I think this is a human problem. We do the opposite of what we want to do, and the things we don’t want to do, we find ourselves doing. Perhaps there is some beauty in reverse engineering some beliefs—figuring out how I want to be and connecting it back to a belief.
Secondly, I want to become a mystic. What would that mean? I think it would mean seeking my more unity between God’s spirit and my spirit, through prayer, contemplation, and meditation. I think it also means seeking to apprehend truths that are not easily expressed through propositional statements. In the past I’ve been suspicious of mystical thought that claims to be “beyond” logic or reason; that sounds both pretentious, and like utter nonsense. But lately, it doesn't sounds so bad. As human creatures, we so often over simplify and reduce the options in a given scenario to “A or B.” Even if there is a “C” option, or even a “D” and “E,” those are still just letters. It would seem very much like Jesus to say the answer is “none of the above, ” or ∞. Now that isn’t quite nonsense—it’s more like… thinking outside the box?
I’m not saying this is the end of the story. This is just where you end up when you spend a lot of time exploring a lot of different perspectives, and getting a little overwhelmed, especially if you have an empathetic personality. But one cannot stop seeking. Stay on the path, and keep love central.