Unlearning


Since I've learned to pay attention when threads of conversations in different circles have recurring themes, I thought I'd share the latest one...

- I read Mary Burleson's post on things she had been taught and once believed deeply, that she now has completely changed her thinking on.

- I interviewed a man yesterday for an article--an advocate for the homeless--who previously worked for a televangelist. When I first met him at a dinner, I heard him say, "They are selling Magic Jesus...hell, I sold Magic Jesus."

- During our car ride up from College Station, Chase was talking with me about Rob Bell's book, Velvet Elvis and the problem he had with it. I was very proud of him, he had initially been very critical of the book based on things he'd heard.  I asked him to read it before stating opinions on it, and he did. (Note he still holds the same opinions, but he softened his objections because Rob Bell's heart comes through in the book.)

As Chase and I talked I couldn't help but remember 20-something Cathy and how she thought and believed. There are beliefs I would have fallen on my sword for at 20 that I now know to be untrue. (Heck, there are people who figuratively put swords through me defending what they believed to be true.) And as I contrast my own experience with those of others, it occurs to me that the whole process of growing and becoming requires a lot of "unlearning."

Unlearning is hard.

There is fear to it.

After all, unlearning changes your view of the world.  And when the way you see the world changes, vertigo sets in for a bit until you get comfortable with the new you (then the whole process seems to start again).

And I see two responses to 'unlearning.'  One is anger or deep criticism for the people who taught what is unlearned or at yourself for being gullible.  Because once you 'disbelieve' something, it is hard to see it as true. The other response...what I believe to be the better response...is humility that in our own humanness we don't know everything.  The grace to be able to respect others...even when we think they are wrong.

Because if you live long enough, you will learn you are wrong about a great many things.

This isn't to say there aren't things I believe strongly. I do.  I just think now I have a healthy fear of putting a sword through someone over an issue that comes down to how they see the world or how strongly they embrace what they were taught by others.  I used to think beliefs changed the world.  But now, I think that people do. The conversations. The interactions. It would seem that what we do is more influential than the most persuasive of arguments. A cup of water given in kindness has more power than libraries of doctoral theses.

At least that's what I believe. I hope it isn't something I have to unlearn.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall