Perhaps one of the most significant personal achievements in recent weeks has been the realisation that I don’t know anything.
Which at first appears to be a troublesome conclusion.
Over the last few months, I have been exploring the potential of different perspectives, viewpoints and understandings of the world and how we might implement this awareness into our day-today routines. Overall, I have found the process quite humbling; it can be a great comfort to realise your own perspective is just as fallible as all others.
Yet, this has now developed into a deep uncertainty in regards to not just my own views but reality itself.
Take, for example, a scientific theory. One group of scientists may claim their theory is correct whilst another may claim their theory is flawed. In this scenario, providing I can identify no gaping contradictions, I genuinely have no idea as to what to believe. And, even if there were gaping contradictions within the theory, it still wouldn’t necessarily mean I could dismiss it as irrelevant or invalid, especially when considering the fact that almost every other argument possesses similar contradictions.
In fact, contradictions and flaws may be one of the only certain things I have found within any given argument, ironically.
This may not have originally presented a problem. I could- incredibly easily in fact- make a value judgement in the moment and decide to follow the reasoning of a particular argument and confidently ignore any hypocrisy that may exist. I would once have taken such an action.
Now, however, after becoming aware of the uncertainty of any given argument I struggle to make the same decision. Where I would have once enthusiastically staked my claim and my support, I hesitate.
Perhaps the only conclusion I can come to is: I don’t know.
I just don’t know.
If every perspective I have found is flawed, how can I follow it whilst consciously being aware of its weaknesses?
If there are always new ways to develop, adjust or disprove a perspective, how can I be confident that anything I believe will not change with a moment’s notice?
My uncertainty does not stop me from believing entirely. I have a great number of ideals, opinions and beliefs which appear integral to how I act and behave, but even these I am beginning to doubt and question.
The best way I can visually describe my feelings is as a large spider’s web. The centre of the spider’s web is propped up by strands of thoughts which extend outwards into the distance but- instead of anchoring themselves to a suitable, stable support- they begin to dissipate and fade.
So whilst it may initially appear that I am certain, that I am resolute, when I begin to explore the reasoning of my opinions I am unable to find the support and certainty that I initially expected to exist there.
Maybe that’s OK
Perhaps it’s alright to be uncertain, to not really know what to do. Because the reality is, I’m not even sure whether true certainty will be something we ever discover.
However much I might want there to be certainty, I can’t force myself to believe something I don’t feel is true. And even that’s a contradiction to my initial point.
Something which keeps returning to the centre of my mind is a phrase a good friend of mine once told me.
“We don’t need to find something that’s perfect; we just need to find something that’s better than what we currently have.”
So maybe it is OK to be uncertain, to not really know what we are doing. Whilst doing so may feel uncomfortable at first, perhaps it may also allow us to be dynamic. Perhaps it may allow us to be resilient because we will never believe we have found the correct solution.
In regards to my beliefs, I still hold them. But I will try not to hold them as truth. I am aware that they are simply a product of my own life experiences and are just a fallible as every other that may exist.
And I might never really know what I am doing, whether I should be doing something or what my actions may ultimately result in.
But my other alternative is to do nothing and that’s not an alternative I think I would like to pursue.
But what I will try to always be aware of is the uncertainty of my actions and my perspective because, just maybe, my uncertainty may help find, not something that is perfect, but, something that may be slightly better than what we currently have.
Although I still don’t really know what “better” is.
But maybe that’s OK.
By Isaac Husband