This I Believe

Dean - Cicero, New York
Entered on February 21, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in not being certain. The age that we are living in has suffered too much from the actions of people who are all too sure about things. Knowing that you are right can only lead to a conceit that will eventually harm others. It is only when we are not sure about what we believe and know that we search with an open heart and discover what needs to be found.

Life can seem so large and intimidating when we are young that we grasp a bit too firmly onto the first ideas that seem to make sense. As young people we can be so strident and confident about what we believe to be true. It takes the humbling and teaching that only life can bring for us to see the folly of this.

I spent many years involved with churches where we were sure about a lot of things. Many Sundays were spent reassuring each other that we were good and chosen while everyone else was lost and fallen. We were so sure about this that a great deal of tears was shed over the fate of family and friends who we were sure were not in our group. We were sure that they were damned. By our certainty we become less than human.

College is a place that almost guarantees its graduates the curse of certainty. After all, you spend four years being professed at by instructors who are “Masters,” at the very least. And on the day that you become credentialized you listen to an address by some sort of expert telling you and your friends that you are about to change the world.

I have been blessed by having the opportunity to work with young children, just beginning their years in school. In that environment, those who are most sure and certain about what needs to be done don’t succeed. The daily engagement with a group of six- and seven-year-olds has taught me that no matter what I may think that I know and have seen, there lies waiting for me a wealth of daily experiences ready to upset all of my notions. There is no group of learners more excited and motivated than First Graders. It is that dynamic always-changing energy that daily presents me with new situations that challenge what I thought was true.

Thank God I graduated into the world of teaching children, a group of people who are destined to show you what you don’t know. The most important lesson you learn in teaching six and seven year olds is that you had better be flexible in this life or you will quickly become useless. You may still be certain, but it will be in ignorance.

So try to greet each day as another opportunity to learn what else you need to change your mind about.