“The Joy of Being Wrong”

“Conscience doth make cowards of us all,” declared Hamlet though in modern English, Shakespeare would have had Hamlet call it “consciousness.” Shakespeare saw that the awareness that consciousness brings is stunning and tends to give us pause to the point that his projective characters Hamlet and Macbeth were often stymied into inaction with their “pauser reason.” Shakespeare had Hamlet note that his obsessive thinking, which created his hyper consciousness, was actually cowardice when he admitted that if all his wisdom were “quartered,” it would be, “three parts cowardice and one part wisdom.”

Shakespeare knew, as would T. S. Eliot centuries later, “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” This is the reason that the gods graciously gave us blinders and we sure as hell better hope we never lose them for we will be face-to-face with what poet Wallace Stevens called, “the fatality of seeing things too real.” But I have found it very important to acknowledge that I have these blinders and to realize that this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said that, “we see through a glass darkly.” Acknowledging our blinders is merely acknowledging our human-ness and that is so very hard to do.   Just ask Isis. Just ask the extreme right-wing of my country’s Republican Party!

Acknowledging my blinders has been actually quite liberating! I no longer have to be “right” for I know that being “right” is merely self-deception. “Right” is a Presence in the human experience that visits us from time to time but none of us can claim it and pontificate about it. This is probably related to what the Catholic priest Charlie Alison had in mind with his book, “The Joy of Being Wrong.”

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