Open minds allow for knowledge


Epistemology: “How do we know that we know?” I looked it up, and my Webster said it was “A branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.” I think I like the first, off the cuff definition better. It gave simple me a quicker understanding of the word.

Today many people seem to think that we now know everything we need to know, so let’s get on with it. That would seem to be the temper of many who seek power. They are not so much interested in what anything is or was. As long as they are in control, they want to stay there. There are still, however, those in positions of power who actually feel a relationship with their fellow man, and desire to serve to everyone’s advantage. They try to guide us, and keep us from becoming the victims of those who have more ambition for power, than any feeling of saving their fellow travelers from catastrophe. We seem to be made up of the “What can I do to help” folks, and the “What’s in it for me” types.

It sometimes seems that the main purpose of a full moon, and a star filled sky, on a warm summer evening, is that it gives even a hard heart reason to become filled with wonderment. It introduces us all into at least momentary careers in epistemology. How do we know that we know?

My answer to the question is, that with us, it is instinctive. Woodchucks don’t know, or care, nor does any other animal. But I believe every human is born with the instinct and intelligence, to realize that life is more than his immediate environment or condition. He has been driven throughout the centuries to search, discover and learn. Over the centuries his evaluations have been everything from weird to wondrous. His existence has been filled with assumptions, and different versions of what life is, or has been.

We must learn more tolerance for our differences. None of us can be everything the world needs, but we are all needed somewhere. We range from medic, to architects to plumbers and carpenters. We run the gamut from musicians, to poets, painters and storytellers. We are each unique in our own right, but we do not always recognize, or understand, our own, or others, uniqueness. Our mentalities are as wide ranging as our faces. I am reminded of a long gone love song from the 1940s. I think it was sung by Nat King Cole, but I may be wrong. Its title might have been “To Each His Own” but as I recall the lyric said, “A rose must remain in the sun and the rain, or its lovely promise won’t come true. To each his own, I found my own, one and only you … “

The spokes on a bicycle wheel are each located at a different place on the wheel rim, and thus by necessity, they each must take a different, straight line route to reach the hub of the wheel, thus allowing each to serve the bicycle as they were meant to. That may not be the best example to justify the differences among people, but the real tragedy would be if we were all the same, like a herd of cows, with no variety in our mentalities.

Our differences are what makes the grandeur of society. We are each unique creations. If we were all violinists, we could not have the great symphony orchestras we enjoy with the other strings, the woodwinds, the brass trumpets, trombones and the drums. Our variety is one of the great, unsung truths and realities of humanity. The Lord loves us all, and blesses us all … along with America.

Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com