Isn’t life a case of needing to know who we are and where we stand? Not just in the sense of our own personality or background, important as those are, but also the larger sense of our place within the ongoing flow of humans calling this their home. Maybe our heritage, our responsibility, is as much “human” as it is systemic or personal? “To live” being to stand within it all.
Understanding this world we’re stepping into – what we’ve been aiming for; how well it’s going; which parts our lives play in the success of any particular aspect of it – seems important if we’re to have any ability to correct things as they drift off track (Notes One). This sense of needing to line ourselves, our thoughts, up truthfully with “reality” in order to fill our roles wisely and responsibly.
And it’s interesting, in that light, to think how much of all we’re told sits within theories other people have about life: political, economic, social, spiritual, psychological beliefs others hold now or held in the past. In a way, aren’t almost all the thoughts we have about reality simply theories we’ve accepted and built our lives around? The best, most convincing or pragmatic solutions we’ve been offered so far.
If we had the “perfect” theory – one that encompassed absolutely everything and guided it all towards total harmony, eradicating every problem on the way – life would, presumably, line up with our thinking and all our actions fit perfectly within it. Its compelling logic having been something our minds could not deny, we might’ve happily taken our place within such a beautiful theoretical system.
As it is, it often seems we’re living jumbled up alongside all kinds of ideas about life – all the many and various interpretations people have made, conclusions they’ve reached, and plans they’ve set in motion. Each action, each word constantly spilling over into this shared space we all people by our presence. Each person, conceivably, having quite different ideas in mind about what’s going on and what it all means.
Surely though, somewhere, truth comes into it? This idea that there’s truth behind our intentions, our understanding, our capacity, that we could, somehow, manage to communicate between us. Creating common knowledge, if you will, over what we meant – however imperfectly we might have executed our vision. This “truth” that’s somehow split among each one of us; until we succeed in bringing it to life. (Notes Two)
Learning what everything means – behaviours, systems, expressions, artefacts – seems the essential task of education (Notes Three). This sense in which we’re forever trying to pass on an understanding of what matters, so people know enough to take their place in this world. As if, by learning the “code” for reading reality and speaking into it, we’ll eventually appreciate what it all means and act well on that knowledge.
With the world now being so blended and fast-moving, though, how can we ever be completely sure of whatever “truth” we have in mind?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Navigation, steering & direction
Note 1: Understanding what we’re all part of
Note 1: One thing leads to another
Note 1: The power of understanding
Note 2: Joining the dots
Note 2: Modern challenges to relationship
Note 2: How much do intentions matter?
Note 2: Diplomacy and knowing where we stand
Note 2: Is honesty actually the best policy?
Note 3: Where education stands within society
Note 3: Passing on what’s important
Note 3: Common knowledge