Question Six

Does anyone else know your thoughts?   

I don't mean your opinions.  I mean your thoughts, largely your guarded thoughts.  In particular I’m talking about your guarded thoughts that might also be your doubts.  (Did I mention that I’m a big fan of doubting?)  Could it be that honest doubting is a way to understanding, even though there may be a price to pay, as honest doubters may not be welcome within many political, philosophical, or religious communities of the world?  And what do we mean by “honest” doubting?

It seems to me that honest doubting is a measured caution, representing a frame of mind and heart that welcomes new information and competing views.  It is a portal into a way of thinking about and considering truth claims, and attempts to create a level playing field for very challenging ideas.  Honest doubting demonstrates a willingness to embrace what may emerge as compelling, holds in abeyance what is as yet unconvincing, and carries with it a winsomeness in regard to what may well be unknowable.  It strikes me as a remarkably life-giving way of being present in the world.  And I say it is a most excellent path forward.

And then there is honest doubting’s antithesis — intentional doubting (aka immovable skepticism).  Intentional doubt is the kind of doubt that is an end in itself.  It represents a willful reluctance to explore.  These are doubts that are prized, shielded, and spared examination for fear that their exposure will create chaos in what may be a sheltered thought life.  In an attempt to create order intentional doubts instead establish a confinement, and arrest in us the freedom to investigate what might be so.  Do you want to live like that?

So what are you going to do with your thoughts?  And are you willing to doubt even your doubts?  (I promise we won’t use the word “vulnerable.”)  Why not ask the “why’s” and “why nots”, even as it requires you to navigate zones in your life that harbor great fear and hesitation?  Why not the deep end of the pool?  Why not take the chance of completely coming off the rails of containment?  What are you going to do, live some flat, boring, inconsequential life of accommodation?  Are you going to run your flag up the pole to see which way the cultural wind is blowing and stumble along in that direction, as though it’s a virtue to acquiesce?  When are you going to suck it up?  When are you going to expose your mind, your heart, and your ambitions to a larger story?  Life is short.  You can do this!