This I Believe

Ken - Novato, California
Entered on December 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: question

I believe that contradictions are a necessary and vital part of human life. Without contradictions, life would become so logical as to be a simplistic math statement. Most of the beliefs that I hold are contradictions either of my past beliefs, relatively recent or not, or contradictions of others’ beliefs.

Humans tend to vilify people called hypocrites, which we define as people who say one thing and do another, or fervently believe in two incompatible ideas. “The greatest ability of the human mind is the capacity to hold two contradictory truths and to simultaneously believe in both of them (Orwell).” This ability has been made a necessary skill for surviving in the political world. Politicians will retract their statements, say they believed something different all along, and the public accepts the contradiction. While most public officials can justly be called hypocrites, therein lies a contradiction. Nearly every human is a hypocrite; some are just more conspicuous about it than others. We consider lying horrible and yet social interaction is built off of positive lies.

Politics often results in broken promises, one of which has affected my own immediate neighborhood far longer than I thought it would. Our cul-de-sac had a number of interesting legal issues associated with it being half owned by the city and half privately owned. This technicality allowed the city to avoid paving it for months even though the money had been appropriated in a bond measure for some time. When they finally did pave the road it only took a total of twenty hours.

There are some things in life that people never learn to accept no mater the evidence put forth. One of my great-grandfathers refused to believe that man ever landed on the moon. He had grown up while horses were the common mode of transport and trains, not airplanes were used to cross the continent. This leap of imagination, that we could safely leave the earth’s atmosphere was beyond his horizons. By contrast I have grown up with the fact that we landed on the moon, regularly launch satellites into space, and the information depository that is the Internet.

Contradictions are a vital part of human society, continually taking it to ever-greater heights. While it is in the nature of humanity to resist everything that might contradict their beliefs, society on the whole is more adaptable than its parts. Governments are a prime example of the necessity of contradictions for without them a democratic government would begin to resemble a dictatorship.