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November 2, 2017


Certainty is the disease at the heart of disunity

Social justice has been important to me since I was 15 when I wrote my first protest songs. After many years of haranguing my parents with my certainties about the ways they should be and treating them with a condescension that’s bugged me for a lot of years. I came to understand a universal truth: the universe doesn’t give a damn about the way I think it all should be. Or the way you think it should be.

That eureka modified my self-importance quotient and got me trying to understand the logic and motivation behind the thinking of people I disagree with. Even those whose worldviews I find delusional or repellant.

And since that eureka moment whenever I hear anybody gas on with certainty about any side of anything, I notice a faint smell of burning flesh in the air. There are times when I recoil at the smell of my own gas which opens a nice opportunity to take a much needed breath or two.

That stank in the air got me to finally book out of Occupy Wall St. after two years of banging my head against fundamentalist certainty. It broke my heart. Spent a lot of months in a deep sadness like after a breakup with a soulmate. But my neck and nostrils felt some fast fast relief: no more neck strain from constantly looking around to make sure I hadn’t wandered into a Tea Party action by mistake.

Whether it’s my team or the opposition – when certainty wins the day we get much needed (when my team wins) regulations and legislation that are imbedded with the overkill of certainty. And the overkill seeds the other side’s certainty talking points and the certainty platform that later repeals the reform or creates new legislation embedded with certainty run-off that seeds the next pendulum swing with embedded overkill. The needy arrogance of certainty makes consensus a pipe dream. It alienates potential support and alliances in movements for social justice. No alliances and support = no traction = no critical mass that leads to change.

I’m hearing somebody say that the arrogance of certainty is what fuels the passion that makes change happen. And I reply: No way!! well… yup, I hear you. And I’m thinking about it. And well, OK, you’re right. And now I’m really depressed.

I plan to fire up some passion here. And a lot of redundant but pertinent allusions to the certainty poison. Maybe somebody out there will come up with a certainty-free way of uniting people and energy to fix the mess we’re in.

— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection

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Polar Levine

working class college dropout who loves to learn, poke his biases and waste time looking around