We had a humdinger of a thunder and lightning storm this afternoon. The temperature dropped thirty-some-odd degrees from days prior. The wind and rain lashed with fury, downing branches and setting the flagpole in the nearby courtyard to clanging an urgent warning.
But the pinnacle of any storm worth its salt is when it crashes down right over your head. There are no “Mississippis” left to count between the blinding light and the heart-stopping BOOOM!
Prepare yourself as you might for the next clap, the adrenaline spikes again, seizing your lungs for a moment. Tell yourself all you want that you are safe inside your house, but the storm feels alive. You feel small and vulnerable and irrational. That lightning just might come through the outlets and get me!
Such a storm was the one that struck today. And it occurred to me for some reason how truly and utterly terrifying such storms must have seemed to earth’s inhabitants centuries or millennia ago, during dark ages when men believed that such events were the wrathful vengeance of powerful and capricious gods.
Take a moment to go beyond merely reading that thought. Try your best to consider that perspective.
The fire sizzling around you is a personal punishment on your town.
The wind is tearing at your house, seeking you out. It knows where you are.
The deafening crash is the incomprehensible voice of deity, naming your sins for the world to know. How many people will suffer today because of the displeasure you have caused? But do you even know what it is you have done to incite this curse?
Silly folks, right? I mean, c’mon. How could they have been so utterly ridiculous?
Ah well, what did they know …
But I’m inclined to think that those terrified souls weren’t all that different from us.
It seems to me that each generation of humans fancies itself terribly enlightened, while considering those who came before to have been simpletons all. But consider even recent history.
Slavery? Segregation? Of course!
Man on the moon? Never!
Teleportation? Science fiction!
Forget history. Look at your own life span. How many things did you once believe firmly — things at which you now can only laugh or shake your head in chagrin? Never mind Santa and the Tooth Fairy. I’m talking about real-life stuff that matters, and at ages where one might have known better, only to declare a decade or so later, “What on earth was I thinking?”
Philosophy. Religion. Politics. Relationships. Priorities.
Consider. If we, as a race on the whole and as individuals, have been wrong so many countless times before — however right we may have believed ourselves to be at the time – isn’t it only logical to assume that at least some of what we may firmly believe today is also less than 100% accurate?
And if this is true, could we not extend a little more patience and open-mindedness to others, even when their ideas may seem dead wrong to us at the moment?
I came across this quote recently, and it seems to me to hold a good dose of wisdom:
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s own ignorance. ~ Confucius
I am not a relativist. Logic so far as I understand it would seem to say that all things can not be equally true. I only question whether any of us should be so bold as to declare ourselves the final authority.