Things we all agree on

One way of looking at life is that it is a bitch. Bitch in that it requires a sustained (and pained) effort over a long period of time to construct a “map” in our heads that conforms to the world in which we are attempting to navigate.

One way of looking at life is that it is a bitch. Bitch in that it requires a sustained (and pained) effort over a long period of time to construct a “map” in our heads that conforms to the world in which we are attempting to navigate.

To make our maps accurate we need to discover as much as possible about life that is true. If your mapping is inaccurate you run the risk of getting lost and bumping into unanticipated reality.

In our daily lives we are confronted by what has been called “the conventional wisdom syndrome”; things we are taught from an early age and have heard repeated so often that we assume they must be true.

Much of this information has been boiled down to clichés that pass for useful guidance in describing the reality that we use for guidance. Sometimes those promoting these principles are “experts,” which gives them added currency, but does not make them true.

Take, for example, the old favorite of marriage counselors that: “Any relationship is hard work.” Belief in this wisdom has the tendency to reassure people that they are not alone in their marital woes, while preparing them for the inevitable lecture on compromise and negotiation that is at the heart of most marriage counseling.

Belief in this wisdom usually ignores the frequent reality that the marriage is in trouble because the participants no longer love each other. No one will tell you this, but the obvious truth is that “Bad relationships are hard work.” Who says that if it’s not satisfying your needs, then you are not working hard enough?

Love in general is the subject of endless clichés, most of them untrue of course, despite their frequent repetition. Even the word love is felt to be mysteriously indefinable.

If anything, people tend to love someone when their needs and desires rise to the level of their own. And so we come to believe in the concept of “love at first sight.” Or perhaps the equally disprovable idea that “love conquers all.”

Another thing we agree on in large numbers is the notion that, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” This bit of pseudo-wisdom ignores the impact of losses like the death of a loved one. It would be obscene for a bereaved parent to reason or even simply imagine that they have been strengthened by their grief. They are still alive but forever diminished.

There are many other things we are expected to believe because we have been told them so often. Perhaps the above examples provide a reason to begin to decide for ourselves how many of these things are actually true.

 

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