“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
Five hundred years ago, most people thought the sun revolved around the earth, doctors thought bleeding a patient would cure him, and women thought spreading dog urine on their faces had anti-aging effects.
We look back in horror at many of the actions and beliefs of our ancestors, yet in five hundred years, what will people think of us?
We are injecting substances into our bodies to change their structure, hacking off parts, and pumping up others. We are defined by our money and jobs, the car we drive, and the house we live in. We, like starving kittens, follow famous people around. We tend to withhold support from the people close to us while lavishing it on folks we think “made it” without knowing them. We’re struggling.
Yet, from every culture comes a spark of something that advances the human experience. While we may think we are correct in our beliefs, we may find that we are less wrong. Each step up needs to be corrected. There probably isn’t that shining moment when the celestial choir sings, which means we have reached the pinnacle. No, we are just less wrong.
We get things stuck in our brains that do not serve us, and then we must defend that belief because, heaven forbid, we mustn’t be wrong. Most people are wrong ¾ of the time, like the airplane that needs constant adjustment, yet it hits the tarmac on a dime if someone dropped one there. We believed our thoughts at the time. Now, we think of something else. We are less wrong. It’s called growth.
For the most part, school has taught us to give the “correct” answer. It has taught us not to be wrong. If we are wrong, it’s embarrassing. Sometimes, multiple choices are so close you could debate them for the day. Okay, which one is less wrong? Kids laugh at other kids who get the wrong answer because usually beneath that is a sigh of relief, “Whew, it wasn’t me.”
I’ve run into this story a couple of places: Pablo Picasso, then an old man, was sitting in a café’ doodling on a used napkin. He was nonchalantly drawing whatever his pen drew him to.
A woman had been looking on in awe.
After Picasso had finished his coffee, he crumbled up his napkin to throw away when he left the shop.
“Wait, the woman cried. “Can I have your napkin? I’ll pay you for it.”
“Sure,” replied Picasso. “Twenty thousand dollars.”
“What? It only took you two minutes to draw that.”
“No, replied Picasso. “It took me over sixty years to draw this.’
He stuffed the napkin in his pocket and left the café’.