When you are a kid, you believe things in very simple manners. “It was Wendy’s fault (my older sister).” I’d proclaim this when asked by my parents what all the noise was about. This was one of those simple manners for me. To be fair, Wendy had several assertions of cause about me too. I’m glad that she and I are close in our adult lives — she is someone that I respect dearly.
Such certainty goes with that developmental stage — we were five and seven. You hold on to a belief (without ever calling it that), not because it is a true expressions of what is really going on, but because it comforts. It is convenient. Or it just gets you out of trouble.
When you grow up, which I believe is a process that extends well past puberty and early adult life, you start to see the complexity of things. You start to see that many factors contribute to not just a description of a static occurrence, but to a dynamic of something that is ever evolving. Why do we have climate change — there are many contributing factors. Or, in retrospect, why were Wendy and I making a lot of noise — we both contributed to it, not to mention some of the environment that was our home.
I continue to observe in myself and in others, personally and professionally, that increasing complexity requires all of us to expand the premises of causality and relational dynamics that are in play at any one time. It’s easy to attribute sole fault to another person, but that’s usually just emotional laziness. Or complacency. Or manipulative convenience.
It takes some skill to hold multiple contrasting views at one time. It takes some humility to recognize when we are just speaking louder with hopes of cajoling or bullying people into what is really one of many stories that we are trying to sell as a singular story and premise.
This is not easy work. And not what I would expect our five or seven year-old selves to do. But when your in your 50s, wow — this becomes really important in contributing to a peaceful world and community. It becomes essential to navigate the noise that has gone way past “who took my bubble gum.”
I have hopes for all of us in this. Fears too. Doubts too. And I recognize we need friends to grow into our grown selves, past the time when reductionism protected us (or at least we thought it did) to the imperative of inter-weaving multiple premises at one time. Singularity of premise masquerades as clarity, but masquerades often end at the chime of midnight.
It’s midnight, and time to get to the pluralities essential for our sanity, survival, and evolution. As a species. As communities. As families. And as individual navigating such complex times.