Principle 07: Keep the Question Open

Everybody has a “box” representing his or her personal narrative or paradigm. Some are large, expansive, have numerous openings, and are painted bright colors; while others are small, dark, restrictive, and have no windows. Each of us has a certain inherent limit on how far we can step outside the box.

Our ability to be correct about any given idea or fact is limited. We are faced with information that increases daily, but becomes obsolete almost as fast as it is written. Much of the information is irrelevant, or is in fact the disinformation intended to confuse us. Perspective, values, and tastes impact what we believe to be correct, as they should. But they are not necessarily objective. As E.O. Wilson said, “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.” So should we just give up and go home?

Our goal should be to develop a radical sense of open mindedness and couple that with the humility that comes from realizing how difficult it is for us to see the big picture. We must!, must!, must! abandon our instinct to be right about every opinion we hold! Being wrong, on a position or fact, IS NOT FAILURE, it is a step on the road to knowledge. Learning is not the difficulty; it is our vanity, conceit, smugness, and arrogance in the value we place on our own views.

Quick, without thinking, tell me the location of your car keys and how often did you lose those keys last month? What will you have for dinner tomorrow night? What will the stock market average be in 6 months? How do you construct a bridge? How much manure should you use to grow a tomato?

Ok, now please tell me how do you maintain world food production; create world peace; produce decent living standards for the planet; protect the environment; guarantee liberty and justice for all; foster spiritual growth; expose corrupt powerbroker; and prevent an argument with your significant other over what movie to see?

The conclusion is self-evident. We need everyone’s help, the young and the old, those with experience and those who are hungry to learn, the rich and the poor, male and female, Democrat and Republican, believer and non-believer, the weak and the strong, those with education and those with common sense, as well as representation from all of our American generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X’ers, Millennials,…you get the picture. None of us can see the forest for the trees, but working together we can.

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