By MEREDITH RIGBY
“Test everything. Hold on to the good.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21
I think we can safely say that we know more in today’s society than ever has been known before. There is more knowledge that is more readily available to us than in ancient times. We have made much progress toward human equality, and are making efforts to treat people well. However, I think that the ancient wisdom stated by Euripides and Paul is by no means obsolete.
In fact, our society needs to hear it now more than ever. Just because we have made a lot of progress doesn’t mean we have it all figured out. Let’s face it: we never will. But we can constantly move closer to the truth and to the right ways of acting as long as we keep searching.
It is not enough to grasp a facet of something good and then sit back and be done with it. The tenets of modern day society are in risk of becoming as dogmatic as any of the opposing beliefs of a previous age if we do not allow ourselves to constantly question them.
One reason I believe we do not tend to question everything is pride: as I stated earlier, we are so “progressive,” so “modern,” so “first world,” that we think we must have got everything right.
Another reason is most definitely laziness: why wrestle with the corollaries and consequences of our beliefs if we would be much more comfortable and content if we just held them unexamined? However, I think one of the biggest reasons (at least for me) that we do not question everything is fear.
We can be hesitant to ask questions for fear of being labeled “racist” or “sexist” or “homophobic.” I think sometimes statements, institutions or actions can be implemented in the name of something positive (feminism, race equality, even Christianity) and people automatically accept them as good when they may be either working against the basic premises of these topics, unrelated to them, or as a whole not good, true or helpful.
Yet legitimate questions about these things can result in the questioner being considered “intolerant,” “backward” or God forbid, “medieval.”
However, I do not think that I (or anyone) should feel afraid of such criticisms. As long as we are using our brains, we will have questions about things. If we are to continue as individuals and as a society to grow in wisdom, we need to be able to express and discuss these questions.
If my questions are real concerns, they may prompt others to discover better ways to achieve the good goals of whatever issue is at stake. And if my questions are misguided, they may start a conversation that will help me better understand the issue. It is a win-win situation.
In conclusion, I would like to urge society to encourage dialogue, to express opinions and questions and to thoughtfully respond to them and not resort to name-calling.
As Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”