Wednesday, July 19, 2006

# 165 IN HONOR OF SKEPTICISM

I’ve always thought I could be so much happier if I didn’t hold in my mind such a large chunk of skepticism about everything. I am skeptical about religious doctrines. I am skeptical about politicians, about education standards, about government policies, and social policies on health, tolerance, acceptance, medical care, even addictions. Big skeptic, that’s me.

And amidst all this turmoil, suspicion, and indecision, I have always thought if I were more accepting, more easily swayed, less picky, I would be much happier. Way happier. Happy as a lark. Phased by nothing, discouraged by nothing, saddened by nothing. Disappointments would never be earth shattering. Everything would be in good order. Neat, tidy, acceptable.

I could adapt to all events and the social norms around me with a certainty that the world and the people in it are well-organized and all doing the right thing. I could take comfort in knowing that every thing in every day is just as it should be as long as the planet rotates, the sun comes up, flags fly, diseases are cured, churches stand, and criminals are punished.

But I don’t feel that way, because, as already stated, I am a skeptic. And oft times a miserable skeptic muttering to myself after watching the news, “What stupidity?’, muttering to myself after watching self-help experts, “fine in theory, but no practical app.” Muttering to myself after watching a med commercial, “How stupid is that? The side effects are worse than the malady?” And daily mutterings about, “What is this world coming to?” Makes me think that if I could just rid myself of my skepticism, I could be as upbeat as a 40-foot tidal wave.

But today I realized something. My skepticism is more a blessing than the curse I have always thought it to be. Because without skepticism I could be all too easily indoctrinated into any religion or cult. And I could be so cloned by the leaders of that doctrine that I would never doubt or question anything they said. But living with my skepticism has me believing in God, but at the same time some days doubting his existence. But isn’t that good? It keeps me ever wary and watchful.

Without skepticism, there is much less to think about and granted that probably makes life a whole lot more comfortable. But I surprised myself when I realized what a big downside there is to a life without doubt, indecision, and skepticism. Living without skepticism is like living without sight. Too easy an acceptance of things promotes numbness of the mind. And living without skepticism locks one into determinations that they don’t understand and feel no need to understand. That can’t be good.

I was surprised to realize that with skepticism always running interference in my mind, I ponder all things and question all things. Skeptics cannot be so molded to a political party’s philosophy that they lose their ability to question the sense and sensibility of that party’s programs and strategies. And skeptics cannot be so indoctrinated with physical exercise, diet, health consciousness, and child-rearing research that they never question whether a program is right for their own emotional and physical uniqueness? Skeptics are open-minded. All debate is open-ended until skeptics draw fast conclusions which they seldom do.

So today, I write this in honor of skeptics, at the same time skeptically wondering whether or not writing this was a wise choice.

7 Comments:

Anonymous ratty said...

skeptics throw up alternative ideas that make people think and look beyond their norm...
this is good thing. at least for me. i enjoy a good skeptic that can rattle my sedentary perch :)

11:05 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

ratty, Loved the last phrase in your comment. An apt and truly delightful description of what skeptics do. I also noted from my visit to 'your place' that you are as skilled with photography as you are with descriptive phrases. Great stuff! Thanks for stopping by.

11:56 PM  
Blogger goldenlucyd said...

An excellent choice, Roberta. Thoughtful and very insightful. Boy! Can I relate! I join your salute to skeptics, for I are one too!

6:45 AM  
Blogger the old bag said...

I too find myself a skeptic...politics, religion, men, shopping, ads....

So, here's the question: are you moreso as you've aged?

8:59 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

goldenlucyd, glad you enjoyed this rant. And I guess OB is right when she asks if one is more skeptical as they age. I think that has to be true. As a very young child I was not in the least skeptical about gnomes, fairies, Santa Claus, and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I guess I still believe in these things (because of their special goodness) although I have transposed my belief from a physical existence into a spiritual existence. Unfortunately not enough true goodness in politicians to retain any belief in them -- spiritual or physical.

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Esther said...

Roberta,
I am sadly, one of those damn optimists that naively and stupidly believe what I hear without questioning it too much. This is especially true of new cleaning remedies advertised on TV to make my life easier, or things that will help me lose weight without dieting or exercise. When I make these purchases..there is someone out there saying..."sucker!".

9:58 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

esther, not to worry my dear. Your comment suggests that you are more skeptical than you might think. No need to be remorseful about days when you were more optimistic -- we all were at one time or another foolishly sucked in.

11:57 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home