This I Believe

Edson - Water Mill, New York
Entered on April 13, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: integrity

I believe that what is simplest is most elegant and beautiful, and that truth is the ultimate simplicity. Truth comes first to the lips, truth does not deceive, truth may complicate in the short run, but not in the long. Truth is easiest to know in oneself, hardest in others.

As an engineer, I know that it is much easier to design a complicated machine than to design a simple one but that the simple machine will both last longer and be more easily understood by others. Because we understand the simple machine, it is less threatening. It has a fundamental beauty.

When we fail to design simple machines, which is often, we cover the inner, complicated mechanism with an attractive outer layer of apparent simplicity – such as the smooth plastic case of the computer I am using now. That outer casing hides the complications within, reducing anxiety and reassuring the user, but it misleads. The user’s long term peace will be determined by what is inside.

Designing simple machines to perform complex tasks, while difficult, is not nearly as difficult as crafting mechanisms to solve problems between peoples. Nor is the benefit as great. I believe that solving problems between peoples requires that we apply the principle that truth is the only foundation upon which long-term understanding, and peace, can be built. Without truth we are merely hiding our intentions under a misleading cover that can never form the basis of understanding. Crafting peace demands wisdom and hard work from our leaders instead of arrogance. It requires that we take the time and make the sacrifices to reach fundamental agreements instead of negotiating complicated band-aids. Complication obscures meaning. Simplicity reveals it.

I believe that if the world’s leaders were to apply themselves to the difficult task of speaking truth instead of obfuscating it, to designing agreements that bridge our separations instead of crafting alliances that cement them, the world would be a much more beautiful place.