Something’s changing in our country, and I’m dismayed. Over the last year or so, we’re losing the expectation that we will demonstrate basic respect for each other in public discourse. No group is completely clean on this, and there’s a reason that politics has long been called “dirty”. But we’re seeing a steep slide that needs arrested. A friend once told me that “words matter”…he was right.
If you don’t believe words matter, ask a child who’s just been bullied. If you don’t think words matter, ask someone who’s fighting depression. If you’re unsure if words matter, study Nazi history and see how a nation was manipulated to ignore (and even commit) atrocities against their fellow citizens.
America has always been a beacon of hope and optimism for the world, Reagan’s “shining city on a hill”. But we are rapidly turning into a mean and nasty place, where insults take the place of meaningful debate on how to make our great country even better, for all of its people. We, the people, must halt this decline. We must demand better from our public figures. We can do better…we deserve better…we are better than this.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
Science has long been controversial, which has always baffled me. Galileo’s sun-centered heresy, vaccines, eugenics…even Einstein rejected the Big Bang theory for years in spite of growing evidence, all because of the theological implication of a beginning to the universe. Science has often been distorted in attempts to prove or disprove a particular worldview.
But I’ve always struggled with what feels to me like a misuse of science. Its purpose is to explain the
world around us–not unlike philosophy or religion–though its primary question is more “what” than “why”. I struggle with any assertion that science represents certainty…even as science itself, but let alone as the final answer to one of life’s big questions. Ironically, as someone who’s wired utterly logically, I’m completely comfortable knowing we’ll never have all of the answers. I view scientific theories as simply our best guess at the time, with some theories simply having the benefit of more time and evidence.
Maybe that’s why I’m even more comfortable knowing I’ll also never have all of the answers that I want to the big “why” questions. It even seems logical that could be the biggest answer of all…that our entire purpose here is simply to wrestle with why: why are we here, and what are we going to do about it? Science can tell us how photosynthesis works or how to build a smart phone, but it can never fully explain why the monarchs migrate or how the Earth landed at just the right distance from our sun to sustain life. The cool part is how science and philosophy each inform the other. Which is perhaps why science is so controversial, when to me, it is instead simply wondrous.
“By denying scientific principles, one can maintain any paradox.” –Galileo Galilei
Being a parent is an illusion that you actually have some control over the life of another human being. It’s easy to see how the self-delusion starts: our children start out totally dependent on us to meet all of their needs. Once they hit the toddler stage, however, things get shaky, as they realize they have choice. But we retain our vast superiority in size, and with it, our illusion of control.
Then the teen years hit, and it all hits. We careen between peace and all-out war, spending much of the time in between in a tentative truce. They’re trying to grow up, and we’re trying to learn how to let them. The realization slowly sinks in to both of us that control has shifted. If we’re lucky, it’s a soft landing reality. If not, it can rip the relationship down the middle. Either way, it’s a painful lesson for all.
I count myself unbelievably blessed. I’ve always said that I don’t just love my kids, I’m fortunate to like them, too. But in the end, even the kids eventually acknowledge that any obligation on either side has now shifted to sheer choice. I’m hopeful, based on not a little evidence, that my children will choose to keep me in their lives.
“Each day of our lives we make a deposit in the memory banks of our children.” –Charles R. Swindoll