Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's all about me! ...and you

Phipps at night.

I had dinner tonight with an old, well, acquaintance. It's funny, I would certainly be honored to call Chris a friend, but we really don't know each other that well, even though we know each other from a number of different things. All Campus Worship stuff, worked together at Starbucks, Hot Metal Bridge church...

Chris is a reader, and a thinker. He's a Christian, and a liberal. He's an idealist, and passionate. He and I had a lot to talk about.

The conversation would be accurately described as exhausting, though I am not exhausted. I'm an extreme extrovert who enjoys debate and conversation on those topics not appropriate at the dinner table (no, not gay porn, silly. religion and politics) and so I left feeling quited energized and revitalized.

We covered simply too much ground to rehash the entire discussion here. But, I think I shall just start throwing out themes and see where it takes me.

Chris is a self described idealist. I am too. But we have completely opposite conceptions of how to achieve an ideal world. And, ironically, that is exactly what I think is right and good and beautiful about this world, and Chris (like most people) seemed to struggle with that. Let me explain.

My philosophy on life is complicated. It's deep, not entirely worked out, hypocritical at times, beautiful, perfect, spiritual, idealistic, pure, and true. And so is yours. But they're not even remotely the same. I guarantee it. And that above all else is my philosophy on life: simply put, to each his own. And I mean that.

Look at this world. Look at all the people in it. All the thoughts, ideas, religions, beliefs, philosophies, conceptions of beauty, and wisdom, and grace, and love, and justice, and truth. Every single person has a different perception of the world based on his/her own experience (which includes knowledge, of course). How could anyone have the audacity (I struggle with the use of that word now that is have become trend-ified by Barack Obama) to claim that (s)he has it right?!

Well, no, let me back up. My belief, my perception, is that they do have it right. And I do too. I believe that each person has it right (or is trying to figure out what is right) for him/her. I believe that there is no one way in anything. I believe in truth, but in many truths. And I believe that perceptions matter.

Why can't we truly live and let live? Why can't you do what you want to do and let me do the same? Now, I understand that people have conflicting goals and that creates problems, and so we need discussion, knowledge, education, compromise, and action. But, I am a strong believe that the ends justify the means (not universally, but specific to this conversation). Chris and I overwhelmingly agreed on the ends: a safer, cleaner, more peaceful, less consumer-driven universe. We disagreed on how to get there (he wants to attempt to make big ripples; me, smaller ones. He wants to be self-sacrificing, a blessing onto men; me, see life as a series of experiences and I want to have as many good ones as I can, helping people and making a difference along the way). We also disagreed on faith and the bible, on idealism and courage. I think that all good people are fighting a losing battle, that the seven old white guys who rule the world will ultimately win and there is really nothing we can do about it. But, like Tolkien, I believe that true courage is raging into battle with the knowledge that you will lose, but believing that its still worth it. Chris truly believes that good can overcome. That we can feed the hungry, reverse environmental damage, defeat all evils.

I say that both of us are right because any Truth (whether or not it does even exist) on the matter is irrelevant. We have a limited amount of time here? Why squander it being miserable or fighting over the justifications of our actions. Let us have the discussions to learn from one another and share and grow, but, ultimately, whether you believe that the earth was created in seven days or seven-hundred million years, let's just take care of it together.

I truly and absolutely believe that no one person has it all figured out. I guess I really don't even believe that there is a right answer to everything too figure out. Everyone has to find his/her own way, his/her own path. Some people will do bad things. Some people will hate and be cruel. We must not let those people stop us. And we must stand united with the other good people (good as you see it, of course) and work to create a better world. And whether you are like me and are doing this merely on principle without the hope of victory, or are a true believer in the possibilities alive in each of us, no matter. I work for a better world, the outcome is out of my hands.

Chris is an exquisite composer. You can check out his work at .

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