Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thoreau is Thankfully Low on Oil

I replace the oil in my car because the engine needs it to run efficiently and cleanly. My engine is not concerned with alternate theories of peformance. It was built in a way which requires a degree of maintenance, of which draining and refilling the oil tank in short regular intervals is a necessity. If there is resistance within the engine then it will overheat and die.

Humanity is not like an engine. Progress is contingent upon friction. In school, children are challenged to consider new ideas, and hopefully process facts not as static events but items through which greater questions can be asked and answered.

But not all progress is good nor is all friction beneficial. Friendships have been lost due to constant irritation.

Henry David Thoreau reminded me of these things while I sought his comfort from beyond the grave. Having recently read commentary on the tweet by Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson along with biased political commentary implying only Republicans are incompetent, I sought out words of solace. This is the one of many which stood out.

Faith keeps many doubts in her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe.
Henry David Thoreau

The religious element is obvious, though often forgotten. As one who has worked with children and youth in a church setting, there is such a strong desire by many parents and educators to ensure a sanitized approach to their belief system. Doubt is not promoted for fear of falling. When has weakness become something which we honor?

But the extension of doubt and faith, first, must be directed at the individual. Friction discloses many things, of which a lack of patience and ignorance hold the standard.

Where is the educators faith that the child and the teacher will attain a level of communication which will edify? Where is my faith in self that allows me to digest news without a poisonous level of disdain for the source or those who align to the opinions?

Approaching the Other's argument requires a level of doubt to our own position. In turn the want is that faith in our ability to disrobe those items which fail to retain validity will be dropped.

Yet there is never dignity lost in saying, "Let me think on this."

While looking for a selfish easement, Mr. Thoreau turned the mirror. If our reading, our speaking and our watching is only a service to where we are then it is best to remain locked away. The perenial faith is that "good for" will win out. The doubt is the accessory.

My reminder is that unless disclosed, there can be no understanding of how the other sees it. I must be allowed to see my faith justified. I must understand to where my faith should be applied. This cannot be given without doubt.

The wisdom is knowing when viscosity serves the room.

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