“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.“ – Mark Twain?
I have a very long history with a certain mode of sociopolitical thinking. Nearly everything in my upbringing viewed the world that way. All the data that informed my thinking was filtered through that lens. All the people with whom I routinely interacted had roughly the same lens and filter system. I was very invested in this mental picture of the world around me, and how to grow that world. All my life choices and political views were informed by that view. I knew a lot of things for sure.
Except that I didn’t.
2020 and 2021 have been a couple years of reeducation for me. It turns out that there were a frighteningly large number of things I just didn’t know. And there were a similarly large number of things that I knew “for sure” that I am now discovering “just ain’t so.”
It turns out that to truly understand the world and the Kingdom we need each other, across social, class, race, national, denominational, and doctrinal lines. No single viewpoint understands the complexity. But we tend to isolate ourselves in bunkers of thought, safe and secure from conflicting viewpoints and contrary data. Whatever manages to sneak into our bunkers is dismissed or attacked as dangerous. So we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn, to grow, to develop.
So back to that Mark Twain quote.
It’s actually NOT a Mark Twain quote, as far as anyone can tell. It was falsely attributed to him in a movie a few years back. But it sure fits with our filter of how Mark Twain or one of his iconic characters would have spoken. There’s a real irony there.
Regardless of who actually said it, it’s deliciously – and frightfully – true.
So perhaps the biggest reeducation for me has been to “know what I don’t know,” and to begin to actively pursue new knowing from different perspectives.
Oh, by the way, regarding that quote, here’s some research into the origins.