We look with bemusement today on the Flat Earth Society and stand amazed that this was the prevailing world view at one point in the past. And I’m sure that when the world was believed to be flat, many were persecuted and even killed for daring to question that “modern science” of the day. Of course, now we know that we are far beyond such tomfoolery and look at the world in the way that is objective, having finally grasped…pretty well…the nature of reality.
But I just don’t think that is the case. “Reality” is always in flux and in time to come there will be certain facets of today’s prevailing wisdom that our descendants will view with the same bemusement and scorn. And, this is true individually as well as collectively. There are so many things which I accept as common place today which forty years ago would have been preposterous.
This insight gives me pause very often. For example, I have very strong feelings about the current political campaign in the United States. And I see how polarized our country is on the same issue. But, as they say, “This too shall pass.” I don’t know what will transpire but I do have faith that “there is a wisdom that doeth shape our ends, rough hew them how we may.” (Shakespeare)
A core issue is the transitory nature of life, including our belief systems. If we could only remember that at best we “see through a glass darkly” then perhaps we could be a bit less arrogant of regarding “the bad guys” and, with a little bit of luck and a strong tail wind, perhaps they will be a little less arrogant regarding us!
On this issue…and I realize it is a recurrent theme of mine…I always like to share an observation from W. H. Auden who posited the notion that our agreed-upon conventional reality hides the:
Snarl of the abyss
That lies just underneath
Our jolly picnic on the heath
Of the agreeable, where we bask,
Agreed upon what we will not ask,
Bland, sunny, and adjusted by the light
Of the collected lie.