There’s Always More to the Story

For project research and to help cope with current events, I have been studying a ton of history lately. More than anything, I am shocked by how little I knew about the foundations of our country, traditions, politics, and modern sensibilities. I feel like I knew nothing before and now see the light. While we were taught a great many things through years of grade school, general education by its very definition could not dwell for too long on any given subject lest you miss out on other things worth knowing. Without achieving a level of depth in many of these subjects, we missed out on a vast amount of context and detail that would have otherwise helped us appreciate how it all came to pass and the impact it has on us today.

While we certainly should not undermine the breadth of general education we require of students, we really should reevaluate the proportions of these subjects taught. For example, Roman history spanned 2,206 years—two freaking millennia, 10x the time the United States has been around!—and paved foundations for endless modern realities like our calendar, legislation, holidays, art, urban planning, and religion. To know Roman history is to better understand our lives today. Yet, Roman history occupied less than four weeks total of my 17 year curriculum. My studies of the Constitution, its drafting decisions and amendments have presented equally gripping and profound insights into how delicate our present reality really is (so much so that I must blog about them soon). So many things in life I accepted or thought I knew before were uninformed or a boldfaced lie. I sincerely hope that no one in my life was ever responsible for teaching me those lies.

In the same way our knowledge of the distant past has its limitations and unlearned facts, the scope of knowledge in everyday life likewise has its bounds. There are so many things we do not know about the world and people around us. We are subjective creatures and by definition cannot see the whole picture. If someone is failing in their job, we might not at first see troubles at home, a lack or training, or our own misreading of expectations. If another person takes an action or argues a point we do not agree with, we have no way of being aware or comprehending every little experience that shaped their output. We cannot ever fit firmly in another person’s shoes. Moreover, we never have all the facts. Every step of the way, we walk through life partially blind. And that, my friends, is the only truth we can possibly know. We have to accept that there may always be more than we know or understand. Even facts we accept as truth proven by science many times over still presumably have room for error or new understanding as we continue to expand the reach of our research (our irrefutable understanding of physics itself may distort when we come to terms with other dimensions).

It’s safer, smarter, and far more humbling to live life as if you know nothing. Yearn to learn more. Never be afraid to ask questions. Never trust anything presented to you as completely true. Always keep an open heart and mind. Try to enjoy the mystery of it all. Always assume there’s more to the story.