This guy’s been here for about three months, seems very well-ordered, diligent Bible student — turns out he’s a black supremacist. Thinks the nation of Sudan is the tribe of Dan. Was asking this guy last night, “Who built this country?” Black folk never ask that question in the presence of white people.Believes there’s an “agenda” at work so that some defendants get their charges dropped and others don’t; so that black people out of nowhere kill each other.
So he’s seeking a conspiracy theory of his own. He won’t accept things at face value; won’t accept What Is. “Everything happens for a reason:” this unseen, inscrutable, in fact bogeyman “agenda.”
Unknowing: peace of mind entails accepting that there are things we’ll never “know.” The never-ending search for the “reason” for which “all things happen” is an desire for certainty and control. It never has and never will bear fruit.
Free Speech Handbook Guideline 12:
12. Be willing to say, “I don’t know” …
… or “I don’t understand.” Be willing also to hear others say it; give them permission.
Why: On the one hand, much of the mischief we have been discussing, comes from a desire to look competent even if one’s not; to look smart rather than stupid. Accordingly, on the one hand, folk are prone to pretend they know things they don’t.
There’s no correct shame in not-knowing. If you were to start listing all the things I don’t know, neither you nor your grandchild nor your great-great-great-grandchild would ever finish. All not-knowing means, is an opportunity to learn.
On the other hand, to deny someone permission to say, “I don’t know;” to insist that the person take a stand, one way or the other; poses a high risk of violating (raping) that person’s conscience. No one can rightly be called on to endorse a position she or he does not understand, or has not had time to think through — or, quite possibly, doesn’t even care about.
An attitude of “You’re either for us or against us,” of “It’s us or them,” runs the risk that both “us” and “them” have misconceived the issue, are possibly even asking the wrong questions, so that neither side’s stand is correct. Both sides then might correctly turn to the one who says, “I don’t know,” humble themselves and seek from that person a better understanding.
The author of Psalm 8 said in part (“You” here is God.):
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals, that you care for them?
Yet you have made them little lower than angels,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
Awe in the face of the unknown may be the healthiest of all human postures.