“I Don’t Know” Three wise words that helped me. I hope they will help you, too. By: Gary Edwards

I was sitting in the cool coffee shop in my hometown
drinking coffee and reading some impenetrable work by
a long-dead European white male. It was a collection of
essays by Arthur Schopenhauer, the German pessimist.
It was a bitterly cold February day, temperature in the low
teens, with a balmy Arctic breeze of about 35 mph (are
we still in the South?). Trees along Main Street were bent
to the concrete. Schopenhauer and sub-zero weather?
What was I thinking? Oh, my nerves! You can easily see
why I needed some amusement to lighten the heavy load
on my fragile, frozen psyche.
This arrived in the persons of four patrons leaving to
brave the cold. As they strolled past they paused and
made eye contact. This gave me the opening I needed. I
looked up, smiled, and offered up a seemingly profound
though completely off-the-wall question along the lines
of “Do we apprehend the totality of existence through
sensory perception, or is some of our knowledge obtained
through the realm of pure reason and a priori propositions?”
Something like that. They looked at me as if I was
crazier than I already know myself to be. Three furrowed
their brows and looked as if they were trying to form an
answer. Maybe they were just delaying the walk outside.
But one young man smiled pleasantly and simply said, “I
don’t know.” Immediately, the aptness, the pragmatism
of his response hit me. I thought, wouldn’t the world be a
better place if most of us took this young man’s humble
position? Think of it: How much pain, suffering and disillusionment
could be eliminated if only we adopted this
stance? Not only have the greatest minds in world history
been baffled by the big philosophical questions, but a
whole load of hurt has resulted from far less complex and
less abstract issues.
To take an obvious example, think of the political arena.
Wouldn’t it be a game changer if the refreshing honesty
and humility of my respondent carried over to politics?
Imagine. Instead of the empty rhetoric of “Yes, my friends
I can assure you that I will solve the problem of (Fill in
the Blank) if you vote for me,” candidates could simply
say, “I don’t know (a damn thing about abortion, crime,
gun control, the federal deficit, steroid use in major
league baseball, or why a loving God would allow the Fox
Network or CNN to exist).” Instead of expensive, sleazy
attack ads, the candidate could say, “All I really know is
that I’m in this for the money and power that will accrue
to me.” Although I am a largely apolitical creature, I would
campaign like a madman on amphetamines for a candidate
that humble and honest.
A significant drop in noise pollution would also
obtain from this simple corrective. The vehement, in-yourface
rant that passes for modern political (and social)
discourse would be replaced by a quiet shaking of heads
and pleasant doubt. For example, whether confronted
with 1) our liberal, soft-on-crime, tax-and-spend, left-leaning
commie tormentors OR 2) our conservative, Neanderthal,
fat-cat, billionaire-wannabe enemies, we could say
simply, “I don’t know... I’m not exactly sure what to believe
in these complex, confusing, troubling, ever-changing,
fast-paced times.”
The idea that we get the elected officials we deserve
would be robbed of the emotionally-laden
blame game, if
only “WE THE PEOPLE” would rid our minds of the dogmatic
shouting matches that proceed from such imagined
certainty. (Hint: Turn off the blowhards of talk radio.) To
wit, “I don’t know who to believe, so I’ll assume all the
candidates are equally limited, fallible human beings and
I’ll vote if and only if there appears a candidate honest
enough to admit he --- or with Hillary on the horizon, she
--- doesn’t really know everything about everything.”
In conclusion, we offer the following suggestion:1960’s
psychedelic guru Timothy Leary said, Just Say Know.
1980’s First Lady Nancy Reagan said, Just Say No. Why
not emulate my humble respondent and simply say, I
Don’t Know.
“I Don’t Know” Three wise words that helped me. I hope they will help you, too. By: Gary Edwards “I Don’t Know” Three wise words that helped me. I hope they will help you, too.  By: Gary Edwards Reviewed by kensunm on 7:00:00 PM Rating: 5

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