I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge." Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
I miss the days when learning was a joyful thing, mounting up to heights of understanding, exulting in the broadening of my knowledge.
Not that all learning is sorrowful to me now, of course. When I was reading Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe, about string theory and the tiny building blocks of the universe and eleven dimensions of space/time, that was pure joy. I hadn’t experienced anything like it since university. Even learning new data systems at work is a pleasant exercise of the mind. And there are times when deeper knowledge shows me not only the poison in humankind, but the wine of the grace of God--love above and beyond the call of duty, heroics from the un-heroic, redemption from the past, healing and restoration in relationships and families.
I've never subscribed to the idea that "ignorance is bliss." Better to know the truth, no matter how ugly, and face it, than to live unknowing, both blind and useless.
In that sense, that last verse resonates deeply with me. I love learning new things, understanding them, and yet the older I get the more clearly I see the ways that human beings can destroy each other, maliciously or through sheer ignorance or carelessness.
It's enough to make me want to close my eyes and stop my ears. It's like being Peter Pan.... I don't want to "grow up" if what it means is facing our petty and not-so-petty evils more and more.
And then I wonder what it is about human life that makes us, makes me, see the evil around us so much more easily than the beauty? That makes us so willing to assume the worst and question the best?
I suppose part of it is fear. If we keep in mind the bad things that are possible, then they won't take us by surprise; we won't be as hurt when goodness fails if we don't expect it.
Heh. I was going to make a seperate post about this, but I think it fits right here. The saying that "the man who trusts cannot be betrayed, only mistaken," has always bothered me. It's no answer to the question of whether trust is advisable, it just shifts the blame for wrongdoing back onto the person who, by trusting others, is trying to do good.
Why sully goodness more, when the world in general already half disbelieves in it?
God’s been trying to teach me to live in trust, not fear. It's a strange feeling, trying to learn more trust when I'm also learning more about how we can falter and betray each other.
He knows how that can be accomplished. I’m working on it.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
Disclaimer: I value all your thoughts, but this a very contemplative post, so don't read too much depression or cynicism into it, please. I always sound a bit like that when I talk about stuff like this. ;-)