HUMANIST CORNER January 2019
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
“Those who cannot remember the pst are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana
“We live in tumultuous times of struggle that is literally life and death for many people. This forces us to question the way we have done things and how it has brought us here. In this challenging time, ‘What to do?’ is not always clear. We can’t always right things that have been broken. Tension, division and the complexity of multiple experiences is real.” Rev Susan-Frederick-Gray, “Love the Hell Out of this World”
Ringing words from our UUA Leader, preceded by two other, more familiar, life declarations. They lead right into the response I got that’s kept me at the fellowship these many years. I’d stumbled into our little house/church on Carmel Drive in Fort Walton, and ambled up to John Lindegren (Cecile’s late husband and dear member) with the typical question. “What do you folks do? What do you believe?” John’s simple response was short and direct. “We believe to question is the answer.” I’ve shared that little anecdote with many of you. The reason I’m still here questioning with you
Existentialist theologian Paul Tillich described religion as asking the profound questions in life, and the willingness to receive the answers. Even if they contradicted what we’d previously thought to be true. Clearly that’s the obvious, spiritual ingredient making us different from the folks down the street! Philosophical growth, in my case humanism. If you’ve never explored the humanist life stance you might Google the Humanist Manifestoes I and II. Of if you’ve 45 minutes to spare in your busy life, tune in Isaac Asimov’s video, “Humanism – Making Bigger Circles>” Decades old now, it could have been filmed last week! https://vimeo.com/20844440.
Another thing I’d like to share is from last Sunday’s “Free Thought” meeting. The topic, the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Try that one in less than an hour! We did.
I think the consensus may have run something like this. Wisdom is not a destination but a process for absorbing provable facts along life’s journey. I’m sure those who attended will correct me if I’m wrong. I mentioned to them after 84 years I’d finally learned all the answers – and they changed all the questions. But we gather to grow, right?
One thing that did come up, and you don’t have to be a Marxist or socialist to appreciate it, was the Hegelian dialectical method for two or more people holding different points of view on a subject. It involves three stages. First a thesis or statement of an idea. Which gives rise to the second step, a reaction or anti-thesis that contradicts it. Then the third statement or synthesis through which the two points are resolved.
In some respects psychologist Albert Ellis’ R.E.T. (Rational Emotive Therapy) follows similar lines. Simple as A,B,C. “A” being the object, idea or feeling one perceives. “B” the process of our identifying it. Finally “C” How we react from the conclusion we draw at “B”. Cognitive therapy circles around the goal of changing our perception at “B.” A process of becoming wiser which hopefully we practice throughout life without the need of therapy. So much for Psy 101.
The ancient Chinese sage Lao Tse referred to such a process as the “Way.” My own chosen way, humanism, is well reflected on the back page of each Sunday’s order of service Of course Buddhism also draws from life as it is lived, with all the paradoxes that involves, but generally avoiding misty versions of afterlife.
So to sum up, we live in times such as humans have never experienced before, with the health of our species and our beautiful, blue island drifting in space at stake. Looking back in history, including the violent side of human nature, we witness a process similar to those above in endless development for better or worse. Wisdom on the move, with a higher ability to visualize a “tomorrow” than any other creature. We simply cannot cower in our respective spiritual and social caves, avoiding that search for synthesis that has always pulled us through…
HUMANIST CORNER January 2019