We do not know too much
If I were going to start this article by saying what I actually knew, I’d have to say, very little. I take my consolation in the fact that I am not alone.
I remember a teen-aged friend of mine who when criticized about any opinion would usually respond; “I don’t feel so bad when I look around.” We live mostly by opinions. We know more than ever before about how many things behave, and enjoy the way knowledge improves our lives, but that is just a tiny shred of the information that surrounds us. We have a lot of theories on how much of the technology that we use actually works, but I don’t think most of us, except perhaps a genius here and there, really understands what is truly going on. We are like a brick in a building. We each add our part to the project, but none of us know the building.
I spent my life working in electronics, and I was good at it. There are explanations of how and why an electric current flows through a solid wire, but do we really understand it? At much higher frequencies they send it down hollow, square tubes. They call those tubes “wave guides.” We control electricity, seeing that as proof of our understanding, but do any of us truly understand what is going on at the atomic level?
We live by what we believe, and we tend to believe what we are taught by those we respect. The more we think we know, the more difficult it may be for us to accept things that seem to contradict what we think we know. Once we become convinced about something which satisfies our search for security, we tend to resist anything that may appear to contradict what we think we already know. One flaw in this is that we often think that what we want or enjoy is good for us.
We live in a complex world wherein we find that to live a good life, there are many things we need to accept for which there may be no proof, at least not in any way we would consider real. I recall what was called a torch song from my youth. It was on the radio for a while. The lyrics asked: “Why was I born? Why Am I living? What do I get? What am I giving?” That’s all I remember, but I’m sure you get the drift. The singer seemed to be wailing in a search for a place in life with meaningful love. In those days there were a lot of songs like that. We may have different answers to the four questions posed by that singer, but our answers are mostly opinions we have adopted for our lives. One inescapable truth is that we will never know all the answers to many questions. That may be uncomfortable to hear. Another truth is that we are the only creatures on earth with the intelligence to even ask such questions.
We gradually have been growing in our understanding. We still have a long way to go, but I cannot believe that this great universe, controlled by never changing fixed laws, has been created to be eventually cast aside as a failed experiment.
There is always purpose in continuity, that’s why continuity exists. Without continuity, temporary purpose would be pointless. Life is the essence of creativity and existence. Without purpose there is no meaning. From a growth of moss on a rock in the forest, to a flock of migrating geese, a crying baby, a man with a hoe, or a meeting of the heads of state, there is no such thing as life without purpose. Purpose is the reason for, and effect of, life. The continuity of purpose, and the purpose of continuity, compose the unstoppable, determined forces of life, which make creation what it is. May God bless America.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org