I Never Knew the Indigo Girls

26 Dec

It seems it is in human nature to declare truths.  Most recently and vividly, I have in mind hearing Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, speaking in the wake of the horrific Newtown, Connecticut Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. It’s not Mr. LaPierre’s controversial proposed solution to school shootings that I have in mind right how; it is his use of phrases such as, “The truth is . . .”. He presented a number of such truths.

There were protesters at LaPierre’s announcement, saying that the NRA has blood on it’s hands and that the NRA is killing our kids. More truths. I thought a mentally-ill young man did the killing.

There was also a guest on public radio following Mr. LaPierre’s announcement who, in decrying LaPierre’s truths, likewise presented his own truths.

People make claims about social, political and spiritual matters with 100% certainty. Folks declare their religious truths with, seemingly, 100% conviction.  There are certainly people in the martial arts that speak of a tradition, approach or technique as being the best or the most effective. People use declarative statements and superlatives to make their point or argue their case. Coming off of a presidential election season (was their ever an off-season?) we’ve been in an atmosphere thick with these inclinations.

I think most of us prefer to settle comfortably in black or white, rather than living unsettled in that ever-shifting, uncertain, uncomfortable and confusing grey. Oftentimes, we just flat-out like to be right, or believe that we’ve got it right, whether out of fear, insecurity, arrogance, vindictiveness, or some other mind-or-heart-set.

A men’s group at my church in which I take part has invested quite a bit of time in discussing areas related to social and personal healing and progress. How do we come together to make progress on important matters? How do we move past rhetoric to proper action? How do we heal personal, social and political wounds? Can we interact with each other in better ways? We’ve drawn upon our own life and faith experience, scripture, and have also explored resources such as the books Crucial Conversations, The American Soul, and Healing the Heart of Democracy to help us make sense of how to better live as instruments of healing and peace.

I’ve always been of a nature to find common ground and healing, and build bridges. However, over the past ten or so years, I’d struggled to make sense of our society, our government, myself and others, to find  some truths if you will, and have uttered more than a few declarative statements.  Not so much so more recently, however. Bear in mind, I’m a guy who once hosted a Dukakis/Jackson ticket party at our apartment, who voted for Bill Clinton twice, who has been a vocal supporter of Ron Paul, and who voted for George Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney.  What the heck is up with that? I think I’ve consciously lived a life of thesis and antithesis, seeking to make or find a synthesis that is greater or more perfect than what existed before. Perhaps I’ve taken literally the notion to walk in different shoes so that I can make, or imagine at least, a better shoe.

The South Korean flag has on it the red and blue taeguk, a symbol derived from the Yin Yang symbol, which signifies the universe as being a perfect, yet dynamic, ever-changing balance of things, of opposites even. On that basis, one might realize that the only truth in the universe is change, and that the only one reality is a changing balance of elements or forces; reality is not, nor can ever really be, all of one thing or of another.

From my Christian perspective, I believe that the only truth is God and, short of perfectly understanding God, anything I believe or advocate is, at best, an imperfect effort or understanding. The judgments of the Lord may be perfect, but my own human ideas and judgments probably need to be counterbalanced more than a bit. If I am not filled with doubt, then it is at least a realization that I must know and understand the other, in a truly open, heart-felt way, to be able to find, if not truth, then an ever-changing, better way. I am evermore confident that whatever it is I want, think or believe at any given moment, it is not the answer, and that it can only become a better answer through knowing, understanding, bridging and balancing with the other, not as a compromise, but with a higher solution as the end.

My prayer and hope for this upcoming new year is that we can step beyond some of our own hard and fast truths, and strive to understand some of the truths of others.  In doing that, perhaps we can take all of this perfect mess and move it up just one more notch.

“Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness a call that’s hard to hear.”
– Indigo Girls

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