I Don’t Understand

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It’s funny. I tend to regard myself as a reasonably intelligent guy, but increasingly I recognize the world as a ridiculously complicated place filled with things I just don’t understand.

Maybe this is natural. Maybe this is the barest beginning of wisdom. I forget who was originally supposed to have said it, but I know just enough to know how much I don’t know.

Except that’s not really it, more like I understand just enough to understand how little I really understand. Which sounds a lot more awkward out loud.

Some of the things I don’t understand are probably well understood by other people. And I feel like most of those things probably come from human psychology and interaction.

It’s easy to pick some relatively recent events and find things I can’t quite wrap my head around.

Take the terrorist attacks in Paris. I don’t understand the mental gymnastics need to convince yourself that the best way broadcast your ideas, your ideology, or your religion, is to attack and kill other people, to make them afraid.

And I don’t understand the knee jerk right wing reactions the attacks. I don’t understand the ability to equates refugees with terrorists, because I isn’t it completely obvious that this is exactly what the refugees are trying to get away from.

Actually, I think I have to admit that I don’t understand the right wing, particularly the far right, in general. How can you go through life with the belief that at some point in the past you learned everything you’ll ever need to know? Everything else, anything you find out after that point, is bad or wrong or both.

I don’t understand how Caitlin Jenner can be woman of the year. Bruce Jenner was briefly famous in the 1970s as an athlete. Much later, he became famous again because his connection to the Kardashians, a family who, as far as I can tell, is famous for being famous. By coming out as friends, Bruce, now Caitlin, has done what, exactly, to be woman of the year? She’s given visibility to the trans community, and that’s a good thing, a great thing, but how is it enough to be held up as a shining example for all women? Brave? Certainly. To be commended for taking the steps to become who she believes itself to be? Absolutely. Woman of the year? I don’t understand.

I don’t understand our society’s desperate attempts to allow all individuals to protect themselves from ideas they don’t agree with.. If I say something that bothers you, something you don’t like, you’re more than free to say so, but you shouldn’t expect me to immediately apologize and take my thoughts elsewhere. That’s backwards. It’s not my job shelter you things you disagree with.

And, to be honest, your offense means nothing to me. No, really, I don’t care if you’re offended. You might consider attempting a small education process with me, bringing evidence to bear on why the thing I said is wrong, but if your evidence is that you don’t like what I’m saying, and that’s all, I don’t see why I should care.

And I really don’t understand why or how some people think it’s the same thing.

On kind of a related subject, I don’t understand the whole, “We’re right and everyone else is wrong and going to burn in hell for it” tenet of almost every major religion. It betrays a serious closed-mindedness, an unwillingness to even entertain new or expanded ideas. More than anything else, this is what drove me away from religion as a teenager. “You must believe exactly what we do or suffer eternal torment.” I know I’m not the only one who has a problem with that.

We had an election in Canada a month or so ago. The basic choice was between fear and lies, good intentions, and a desperate desire to please everyone. As a nation, we went with good intentions, and yet some of the fear and lies about believe that the results were manipulated in some way, clearly against them because they’ve been right all along, you know. I don’t understand the mind set.

I don’t understand the fear of change, especially considering change is with us every single moment of every single day. Unless you’ve somehow arranged your life so that every day is identical to the one before, when you go to bed, you are not the same person forgot that morning. You have learned, changed, grown, even if only a tiny bit.

I don’t understand quantum theory, and I don’t understand all of the tiny little bits of relativity, and I don’t understand the even tinier bits of evolution, natural selection, and behavior. I do understand all three in broad strokes, and I understand them well enough that there is no way I’m going to accept someone’s cherry-picking use of any them to convince me in their particular form of religion, or their crazy theory that there was no universe before there was a consciousness around to observe it, or that there is no such thing as free will. But what I don’t understand is why arguments like that managed to convince anyone in the first place.

I don’t understand how Vladimir Putin is suddenly the good guy in international politics.

I don’t understand how the Southern Battle Flag is a cultural heritage thing instead of a representation of slavery.

I don’t understand free and unfettered capitalism as the best way to do things when it’s clearly screwed over multiple millions of people and creatives massive unbalances and makes money the most important thing to some large part of society.

I don’t understand the insistence in some quarters on treating education and health care as businesses rather than as research and development and maintenance.

I don’t understand the stigma surrounding mental health.

I don’t even understand how my own brain works sometimes. A lot of the time. Most of the time.

There is so much I don’t understand, but I try to keep my mind open and my eyes are open, and I try to always be willing to learn more. Because maybe, someday, some things will make more sense than they do now, and I’ll understand.

Be well, everyone.

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