Archive for category Philosophy

You Know What They Say…

We humans have a number of glitches in how we process information. It’s a topic I love exploring for some reason. We’re bad at grasping probabilities. Very large numbers make us stupid. Randomness doesn’t behave the way our intuition expects it to. Our faculty for pattern recognition can cause us to see relationships that aren’t actually there.

Today, the glitch I’m thinking about is how we tend to perceive things that are well said as therefore true. And I’m not quite sure why we do this. I mean, is there any logical reason to actually suspect that a thing well said is true, or that a thing poorly expressed must be false? And we know that clever wording can’t be trusted, because we have sayings that warn us of this:

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

“Beware of the flatterer: he feeds you with an empty spoon.”

“A smooth talker isn’t to be trusted.”

“Oratory is the power to talk people out of their sober and natural opinions.”

“Eloquence may set fire to reason.”

And speaking of instructional quotes, consider the following example of human wisdom:

“Actions speak louder than words.” So true! And yet… “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Isn’t it?

Everyone knows that, “Slow and steady wins the race,” but…isn’t it generally accepted that, “Fortune favors the bold”?

It’s beautiful to think that “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” isn’t it? Although, now that I’m thinking about it, don’t they say, “Out of sight, out of mind”?

And when Coco Chanel (of all people) said, “The best things in life are free,” did they not realize that “You get what you pay for”?

And then there’s this great bit of relationship wisdom, uttered by many a nodding head when discussing the attraction of one person to another: “Opposites attract”. So true! So wise! So…contradicted by the famous avian saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

And speaking of wise words from great thinkers, I have always found curious the claim that “Great minds think alike,” given the also quite well-said warning that “Fools seldom differ.”

Is this just a lazy way of using a bunch of famous quotes to pad out an article in my quest to write and publish more frequently? Well, sure. Of course it is.

But as the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In our pursuit of understanding the world around us, we often turn to the wisdom of others, distilled into these memorable and thought-provoking quotes. However, these nuggets of wisdom can sometimes be contradictory or even misleading, reminding us that context is key and that true understanding requires critical thinking.

As we explore the quirks and glitches of our human nature, let’s not be swayed by eloquence alone, but rather strive to question, analyze, and appreciate the complexity and nuance that lies beneath the surface of well-crafted words.

Because, after all, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.”

So, as we continue to navigate the world of wisdom, clich├ęs, and contradictory sayings, let’s remember to approach them with a healthy dose of skepticism, and perhaps most importantly, with an open mind.

And as a wise man once said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

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The One Thing I Know

Four and a half years ago, I was thinking about someone I loved very deeply, who was suffering terrible pain that I felt I couldn’t do anything to ease. And I was thinking about my own pain, past and present. I was thinking of losses I had experienced, and some of my darkest moments of doubt and despair. And I was thinking about many others I knew or had known, who struggled. And some who lost the struggle. Not knowing what else to do with my thoughts and my feelings, I wrote a letter to everyone in the world.

I keep meeting new people who need this message. I keep discovering I need to hear it again myself. So here it is, in the hopes that it reaches one more person who needs it.

I’m doing fine, by the way. But life is pretty rough sometimes, isn’t it?

Look. I know you are stressed. I know you are anxious.

You think things are spinning out of control. Or maybe you think things are permanently stuck and will never change. Or maybe even both.

You are staying above water for now, but you see swells on the horizon that you know will eventually break over your head, and you don’t know how you’ll survive it this time. You don’t recall how you survived it last time.

Maybe you’ve lost your purpose. Or never had one. Or have a very clear mission in life that you understand is impossible.

Everything you thought was certain has turned to sand. Everything you thought would get better has gotten worse. People you expected would always be there are now gone, or soon will be.

You wonder about your worth, your value, your contribution, your impact. Or you regret the impact of your past actions or words. You’ve done things that can never be undone no matter how much you wish otherwise, or you just lack the courage to do the things you know you really should.

Your opportunity will never come. It’s slipping away. It’s long, long gone.

Your happiest moments only touch a part of you, while another hidden you experiences them as if through thick glass.

You just don’t know what to do or who to be or where to turn.

I get that.

You are loved.

I won’t say that none of the rest of it matters, but a part of me believes that, in the face of this one truth, the rest matters less.

You are loved.

I believe you are loved by your Creator. I know you are loved by other people who know you. If I know you even a little, I either love you already or am working on learning to love you. (Please be patient.) Many others are, too.

And even if you no longer know what matters, or know that nothing matters any more, or darkly suspect that nothing has ever mattered, this does matter.

You are loved. Even if you can only find one person who loves you, that is huge. It is immense, and powerful, and real. Even if you don’t know who it is that loves you, I guarantee that there is someone.

Your connection to someone else matters to them. Let it matter to you.

Together, you and they can get through this. Together, we can get through this. I mean it.

You are loved.

I have been there, and Love has pulled me through. You can do this. We can do this. Because you are loved.

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Mac and Pearse Live: Dealing with Coronavirus, Covid, Social Distancing, and Church

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