I’m Absolutely Sure That Everything I Believe Might Possibly Be True

Picture courtesy Picture Day, http://picproj2722.wordpress.com/

Picture courtesy Picture Day, http://picproj2722.wordpress.com/

“Obama is a communist.”

“Republicans hate women.”

“Your brother got cancer from drinking Coke.”

These are actual things that real people said to me during the past week.  Each statement was delivered as fact.  With firm, fist-pounding-on-table certainty.  With an absolute conviction which entertained no room for doubt or argument against the shining purity of its certaineous certaintude.

Me?  I envy that assurance.  When I was younger I was sure of all sorts of things. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve come to know just how little I know.

For example, I don’t believe the President is a communist just because he wants the poorest in our country to share in its riches.  I don’t believe Republicans hate women because they think we should protect unborn babies.  And I don’t believe my brother, Bill, gave himself cancer of the tongue because he drank too many carbonated beverages.

Here’s what I’m left with at this stage of life:

 – A few (very few) “knows”

 – A smorgasbord of “believes”

 – A bottomless supply of “hopes”

I know that there is a God.  I believe that He cares for us.  I hope that someday His plan for all of this will be made clear.  In the meantime, maybe I…maybe all of us…should try to keep an open mind and an open heart.  Just a little open.

But what do I know.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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80 Responses to I’m Absolutely Sure That Everything I Believe Might Possibly Be True

  1. Karl Popper said that all knowledge is provisional, I like to remember that. Not sure what he said about Coke or Republicans though.

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  2. I have come to the same conclusions as you over time–funny how much we used to think we knew and now how much we know we don’t know

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  3. sarah9188 says:

    Whoever said your brother got cancer from drinking Coke is a jerk face. I have no idea if Coke causes cancer, but that is just mean and insensitive. Also, I totally agree with this post. I know some things to be true, but there is so much I’m not sure about that I’m willing to be proved wrong.

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  4. …and EVERYONE, except the medical community, has a cure for that nasty cold…..and hiccups!

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  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    Loved this post, and I loved your breakdown of knows, believes, and hopes. In the same vein as this, many people take what they read (or hear) at face value, never taking the time to do a little extra investigation to see whether what they’ve just learned is indeed fact. Usually it isn’t.

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  6. Mr./Ms. Absolute: “Reindeer are descended from six-legged unicorns.”
    Handy reply, to be used if, and only if, pressed to respond: “I’m sure you must be right.”

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  7. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I love this. I love ya. What a marvelous post. Sweet, sensible, so very profound.

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  8. List of X says:

    I guess I’m supposed to take your post with a grain of salt, too. 🙂

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  9. I used to think I was in control. That went out in my 40’s. Now I know He is.
    Amazing how folks can pronounce wrong info with more self assurance than I do just teaching grammar which for the most part is either right or wrong. It’s not that I don’t know. I just know folks don’t like a “know it all” and certain folks really don’t like the voice of authority. I know the grammar is correct. I know what rules to follow and which ones should not be broken. BUT, I want to be open to a new spin on things and welcome another point of view. Now if there are any grammatical rules broken in this comment…I beg forgiveness and understanding. 🙂

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    • pegoleg says:

      I never thought of grammar being open to different points of view. I thought it WAS right or wrong. Seems I’ve been guilty of English snobbery – I’m so ashamed!

      Like

  10. speaker7 says:

    The only thing I’m certain about is the fact that I know very little.

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  11. I know this is a great post. There one more thing I know.

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  12. The older I get, the less I know. That is the only thing I can count on.

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  13. Dana says:

    One of my favorite quotes is this: “The opposite of faith is not doubt– it’s certainty.” (From Anne Lamott.) As soon as we fist-poundingly believe something to be true, well, that’s the end of open-mindedness, open-heartedness, and true faith. Beautiful post, Peg. I hope it inspires people to keep their minds and hearts just a teensy bit more open moving forward.

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    • pegoleg says:

      Love that quote, Dana. And keeping an open mind is something I have to constantly tell myself – dang brain has a tendency to clam up tighter than an irritated oyster.

      Like

  14. so true in my world.. what you said, not what blanket stupid statements from whoever you were talking to this week.

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  15. Peg, I loved this line: When I was younger I was sure of all sorts of things. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve come to know just how little I know.

    I recognize that in myself also. I’m losing certainty with each year.

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  16. It is only the very young, usually teenagers, who know everything. Our knowledge seems to shrink with age. And I always say trust but verify. 🙂

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  17. Al says:

    Some people believe they know everything. Some people believe they know little. I believe I’ll have another drink.

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  18. The Cutter says:

    This is great advice. If people would stop being so darned sure of themselves, maybe they’d be able to learn something new.

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  19. BillThePraiseAndWorshipGuy says:

    I DID drink a lot of Big Gulps, but not sure about Obama…. I’m pretty sure that “baby women” approve of the Republican stance on this issue…. I AM sure that the Lord somehow has me in the palm of His hand. Sometimes that is the only certainty that we are allowed to hold onto; everything else is greased up and ready to slip through our fingers.

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  20. Oh, my word, yes. Yes, yes, and more yes.

    With a giggle for the parting video.

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  21. Laura says:

    I think that if someone told me my brother gave himself cancer by drinking Coke, I’d be tempted to point out that many people have given themselves black eyes and broken noses by making rude insensitive statements.

    I hope your brother is doing okay.

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    • pegoleg says:

      They meant well. It was said with that same conviction that people tell you if you drink urine while dancing around under the first full moon of the year, you’ll never get the flu.

      He was just diagnosed this week, so everybody’s still numb, but his prognosis is excellent.

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  22. People are so funny. I like what you “know” at this stage of life. Too many only keep an open mind if the other’s mind is exactly the same as theirs….life could get very drab that way.
    (Hang in there brother)

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  23. Pleun says:

    Of course you are right, the things I knew then for sure are now gray areas. But I would like to add that I do know other things better now than I did when I was 18. For instance, I now know when a jerk is a jerk, back then I might have thought some things cooler than I do now etc. I have never been sure about His part, but I am sure I’ll find out at some point. Other then that, I hope your brother is ok!

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    • pegoleg says:

      You’re right, we can’t really know about Him. I thought long and hard before I put belief in God in the “know” category instead of the “believe”. It’s a conscious choice we either make or don’t make.

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  24. The Waiting says:

    Learning to have an open mind has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as I’ve gotten older, but it’s also helped me to become a lot more compassionate.

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    • pegoleg says:

      So true. Being a parent, especially, was the most humbling, humanizing experience of my life. It makes you so vulnerable to others’ pain…which is a good and a bad thing, isn’t it?

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  25. I think the epidemic of people speaking foolishly-but-with-conviction is compounded by the internet, where anyone can find some crap written by some boob substantiating their point of view. Speaking of which, look for my next post, coming soon, wherein I give credence to idiots.

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  26. PinotNinja says:

    “Maybe I…maybe all of us…should try to keep an open mind and an open heart. Just a little open.” — this is perfect. And knowing that there is not much that you know means that you actually do know everything.

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  27. Screw anyone who truly believes your brother causes his own cancer, Peg. As for Obama and the Republicans, I am amazed what people will spew out with absolute conviction. I know pretty much nothing, personally.

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  28. I think you know more than you think you know. Especially knowing when to say that you don’t know. You know what I mean? Good points you make here, Peg.

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  29. lexiemom says:

    I think it was Ronald Reagan who said of his political opponents, “It’s not that they’re ignorant. It’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.” (or something like that). That’s probably a good statement to keep in mind about absolutists outside of politics, too.

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  30. John says:

    Short, sweet and spot on.

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  31. Jim Richart says:

    I know nothing…”that’s my opinion…and I believe it!”…….hope I had enough conviction in that
    response

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  32. I’m with you Peg. I probably have fewer “knows” than you but the rest is spot on.

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  33. Barb says:

    I was in a workshop which wrestled with the concept of EVIL this week. There were so many theological and cultural definitions and origins. One group even disputed the existence of evil. I was bewildered. How could there be so many differences and people who adamantly believed they held the only “truth” to the subject?
    I remember the senseless bombing of the Alfred Pl Murrah building in OKC, I tried to make sense of it, but couldn’t.
    I’ve finally come to the conclusion that there are many, many things that don’t make sense and that’s why I need God. Hope within the changing chaos.

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  34. JM Randolph says:

    Peg, I’m sorry about your brother. That sucks. Your last paragraph is my mantra right now. We just lost a mom in our town to suicide and we’re all having a hard time with it. She had cancer and they believe the meds made her depressed… she jumped off a bridge. I don’t know much of anything anymore. Our kids are all friends. I’m just holding on to that belief. I wish you love and peace.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Oh, how dreadfully sad! That’s so tough on the kids…and the other moms.

      My brother, Bill, has an excellent prognosis, so we are very thankful. Our brother, Pat, however, died of a brain tumor years ago. Near the end he said that he had to believe that God had a plan – I hope I can be that brave when my time is at an end.

      Like

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