“It wasn’t in books. It wasn’t in a church. What I needed to know was out there in the world.”
I guess I have been slacking off lately . . . at least it feels like it. I haven’t quite been keeping up with current events as well as people think I should. Seems that I have not been vocal enough on a lot of the issues effecting the world in which I live . . . whether it be on the local or world scene. It seems I just haven't been keeping up with the issues facing the lives of people in the world. I’ve been slacking off . . . been missing the boat . . . just not getting it, and it does not matter who you ask. Seems that all sides of any issue actually agree on one thing—I have been missing the point! The problem is . . . I am not sure what the point is anymore! I just wish someone would tell me what I need to know!
Locally, in the little town I live in, the big issue is an increase in the sewage rate that everyone is going to be charged in order to do the necessary work that needs to be done to bring the community’s sewers up to state standards. Not being up to code is not new “news” to the community . . . the community has known for years that there was work that needed to be done to meet code . . . work that the council and community chose to ignore for a whole lot of years. Now the piper wants to be paid and the community gets to carry the burden of paying for it. There are opinions on both sides of the issue. At the council meeting in which they were announcing the increase I listened to people argue . . . and argue . . . and argue a point that was basically moot. It was a done deal. My head was spinning after an hour of arguments having people attempt to convince me one way or another about what should be done. The bottom line was that it was too late . . . apathy reared its ugly head and bit the town and its people right in the butt!
Down the road in the “big city” the city council voted down a Non-Discrimination Ordinance that would have insured equal rights for all people in the community . . . and, I mean all people whether they were male, female, or anything in between. On both sides of the issue there were lots of words and opinions thrown around . . . thrown around with conviction and belief that what was being said was the bottom line. Pretty divisive issue with lots of heated conversation. It was enough to make anyone’s head spin.
Then, of course, there are the issues surrounding the shooting of a teenager in the community of Ferguson . . . a suburb of St. Louis. The teenager was black and the shooter was a white police officer. Pretty violate situation that has torn apart that community . . . and, the nation. Lots of opinions being spouted out on both sides of the issue. Lots of hot words. Seems everyone has an opinion about the issue. Both sides are arguing out of all sides of their mouths. Everyone is claiming that their truth is the only truth.
There is the issue of the Middle East and all the news about good Christian people . . . about the Jews . . . about just about anyone who does not believe in the political party (if they are that) who wants control. Both sides argue that theirs is the “right” way. I just wish I could a straight answer from either side.
Politics in the United States . . . plenty of opinions on both sides of the coin and everything in between. There are opinions on the “right” side . . . on the “left” side . . . and, everywhere in between. There are “liberal” and “conservative” opinions . . . Republican and Democratic opinions.
All around me there seems to be a million, billion opinions of what I should believe . . . what I should think. It seems everyone is willing to tell me what I need to know. There are plenty of talking heads out there willing to fill me in on what is wrong or right . . . plenty of opinions that are pretty much cut and dry . . . damn if you do, damn if you don’t. It is like there is some sort of common belief that no one can think for him or herself . . . and, the sad thing is that most people seem willing to let someone else do their thinking for them . . . willing to let others opinions to become their opinions without checking it out for themselves.
More or less I quit watching television over a decade ago. I pretty much quit listening to the radio about the same time. I still read the newspaper and news magazines. I peruse the Internet. I take the time to glance at what is trending on Facebook and Twitter to see what is going on in the lives of friends and family. In all of them there are plenty of people willing to tell me what I need to know. It makes my stomach hurt that so many people are so willing to tell me what I need to know . . . thus I quit watching television and listening to the radio. I am really tired of being told by others what I should think and believe. The noise of all these opinions is drowning out the life that is within me.
M. Scott Peck wrote years ago that the root of all sin is laziness . . . that the human race is always looking for the easy way out. If someone else can think for us—right or wrong—we are willing to accept their assistance without any questions asked. If it is good enough for a talking head, it is good enough for us. And, the scary thing about all of it is that it is true. In what I am seeing on Facebook is downright scary. What I am reading in the “letters to the editors” is frightening. What I see on so-called news sites on the Internet—on all sides—is espoused as the gospel truth whether there are facts to support it or not. It is like the human race was gotten itself stuck in neutral without having the ability to move. It is scary because it seems as no one can think for him or herself.
I learned a long, long time ago that the truth is rarely found in the extremes, but rather somewhere in the middle. Yet we live in a polarized world when it comes to the opinions that people have about so-called “current events”. And, boy, if you don’t take the time to understand where you are standing on certain events . . . well, let’s just say it is not good. Hell is going to be crowded with a whole lot of people on both sides that were certain that their side was right. The truth is somewhere out there in the middle of it all waiting to be discovered.
A sign of maturity—which is something we all seek in our lives no matter how young or old we are—is the ability to form and state one’s own opinion. An opinion that is based on experience and on one’s ability to check the “facts” out for him or herself. From what I have been seeing lately . . . well, let’s just say that the human race is moving faster towards immaturity than fully coming to accept reality of being able to think for itself . . . of discovering one’s own beliefs. And, that my friends, is scary. When people quit thinking for themselves and start espousing some talking head’s opinions . . . well, it is scary. Scary because it leads to places that end up repeating history . . . history like the Second World War and all that lead up to it.
Truth of the matter is . . . I do not need someone else to tell me what I think of what I believe. I do not need the television to do this for me. I do not need the radio to do this for me. I do not need the opinions that my friends re-post on Facebook or Twitter . . . no, I would rather have a thoughtful and honest statement about what they really think and believe. I just do not need others telling me what to believe or think . . . I do not need that noise rattling around in the ol’ rock garden I call my mind . . . nor do I need it to be bouncing around in my heart.
I think I can make up my own mind. In fact, I think that is exactly what God wants me to do . . . to make up my own mind based on my love for God and others, not on what someone tells me I should believe or think. I want what I know and believe to be based on what I have experienced in my life, not in someone else’s experience and life. I truly believe that God wants us to think for ourselves . . . to be ourselves . . . not someone else, not something else . . . but ourselves.
I truly believe that each and every one of us has the ability to think for him or herself. The truth is out there. We do not need others to tell us what to think . . . to tell us what matters. God trusts us to make these decisions on our own . . . why don’t we trust ourselves?
Of course, this is my opinion . . . do you have one of your own? Or, do you let others think for you?