Some years ago I read about a Supreme Court justice responding with disbelief to a report about Nazi concentration camps. When challenged by a colleague who said, “are you suggesting that the man is lying?”, the Justice replied, “No, I am not saying that; I am saying I cannot believe what he is telling me.”
An odd recognition, we should all remember: the truth is not always believable. On the other hand, lies, and distortions often are.
So what are we to do? We cannot function without some set of beliefs, organized or not, true or not, even if what we believe is that we don’t believe anything.
Somewhere, as a kid, I bumped into the phrase, “learn how to entertain an idea.” I have since discovered that it is conceptually attributed to Aristotle. My recollection is that my bumping into experience was certainly before I knew that name.
What I do remember clearly,is what my imagination did with it. It was like a scene from a one act play. The idea came to my home to visit. It was a winter evening, a fire was burning in the fire place. I put out the cheese and crackers, we had some hot chocolate to drink, and our conversation began.
The idea explained itself to me. It answered my questions, asked me a few in return, and the evening ran it course. If we liked each other, I would offer it the opportunity to move in, and meet my other ideas. If there was no real attraction, I understood that,and we said good night.
I was too young to think about Believing. If something seemed true, that was good enough for me. It was a lot easier deciding what didn’t seem to be true.
I have since learned that children fall in love with their ideas, and claim them, own them, make them into pieces of personal identity.
Ross Gelbspan on Belief Systems Stanley S. Smith on We Are What We Believe Brock Hansen on We Are What We Believe Stanley S. Smith on Knock on the Door Ross Gelbspan on Knock on the Door