I believe in the value of not knowing. Somehow, I believe in not believing. Of course I do believe some things. I believe that love can heal, that hummingbirds and their evolutionary partners, the flowers that feed them, hint at a wondrous entity that is the wider world, there for us if we’d just allow ourselves to experience it, and I believe we belong here, as a part of it. And I believe in the power of words, which is why I’m a poet. But that other kind of belief, the kind some people hold so close to themselves that it walls them off from the wonders of nature and from their fellow humans, seems to me to be a big part of what’s wrong with the world. Mark Twain said, “It’s not that people don’t know much; it’s that they know so much that isn’t so.” Never before has this been so true.
I think about all the horrors committed around the world, whether Muslims killing each other or killing Westerners, or Israelis killing Palestinians, or a bomb going off at an abortion clinic, or cult members committing mass suicide, and I have to believe that something has gone horribly wrong with their thinking. All these people are acting in earnest because of a belief. Their minds are held captive by an idea that twists them into doing something evil, though they believe they’re doing the right thing.
So I believe I’m going to choose not to believe, to keep my mind and my eyes and my heart open. I’m going to embrace mystery. And I hope more and more people try it. I believe it’s the only way we’ll come to realize our proper place in the earth community, as one species among many, with rights and responsibilities granted by our intelligence. And I do believe we are intelligent, as a species, even though some of us may not act like it. Maybe someday we’ll all live up to the name Homo sapiens, the wise human. I’ll believe that when I see it.
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