Did you know that people think differently? Our culture and mindset as a society, whether it be the society of our family, our friends, our church, our political party, our country, or even the whole world in our day, is limited. It is not universal and absolute.
And that is one of the great and important reasons for us to seek exposure to the thoughts and ideas of other places and times. If all we ever hear and see is that which is from and with people who are just like us in the same conditions and environment, we are certain not to have a very full picture of life. And we are certain not to have seen everything in the right perspective.
It is amazing to me how much society can blind people. I have seen it in others. I have seen it at times in myself when I have come to realize that I have taken for granted some “fact” that is anything but true. I have realized that I have been taught to think and speak according to a certain mantra that I have never examined until now, and upon the first serious examination (sometimes not the first, of course), it is found wanting and lacking the ring of truth. And I realize that the only reason I believed it was that I was raised being taught to assume it was true.
I fear to think what else I have accepted along these lines that I have not yet recognized. I probably ought to fear more and examine my assumptions a lot more carefully.
And I grieve to see how wrong assumptions control the minds of so many people, even good people far too often, in our day.
What can we do to counteract this evil tendency? First, we can actually think about things rather than merely accept them. It doesn’t matter how many people tell you that it is true and how many times they repeat it. Let’s actually think about whether it makes sense.
And as we think, let’s be careful to think according to the word of God which is the only infallible rule of truth.
But after that most important first point, I would like to recommend also the great value of listening to voices from other places and times. When we read what men said and thought about life and events from hundreds of years ago, we will soon find some different perspectives that will help to challenge the assumptions that we have in our day. Sometimes we will find that the assumptions that people have about life in our day are flat out contradictory to those shared by nearly all men from a few generations back. And they would never have dreamed that people would not share those assumptions with them. In fact, for that very reason, those assumptions about life are not really dwelt upon in their writings so much as revealed almost “accidentally” in the passing comments and observations that they make. They don’t even think of themselves so much as taking a position; they just assume this is the natural way to think about matters.
On the other hand, there are times when men from a past generation have been very much aware that they are taking a rather controversial position. They know that they are out of sync with their age, but yet they are confident enough in the truth of what they believe that they are willing to stand out in stark contrast with the bulk of men in their day. We can learn a lot from men like that as well, for there is a good chance that we don’t hear many voices like theirs much in our day. Chances are, their opinions and views are out of sync with our age as well. Don’t you wonder if they were right?
Again I return to ask you: Do you think that your age and society has it all figured out? Every age has had glaring errors. Do you think that ours is the first exception? Have you come to see any glaring errors of the society of your time and day? Do you think you have come to see all of them? Even most of them?
We could all learn so much by reading how men have thought and acted and lived throughout the history of the world. Men from all ages have a lot to teach us, I am sure.