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The Independent Thinker

"I know that I DON’T know everything. In fact, the more I learn, the more I realize I know nothing!"

A wise man once said that there are two kinds of idiots: one that knows it, and one that doesn’t. At first mention, we can be offended by this quote. But, when you think about successful people who are happy and fulfilled in life, they all realize one thing. We are lifelong learners. It’s okay that you don’t know everything! It’s okay if we think differently. It’s okay not to have the popular opinion. We are continuously evolving and growing. And, the quickest way to learn is from each other.

So many people pretend that they want to learn and grow, but shut down quickly when presented with an opportunity to learn or to see another person’s perspective. Our belief system, through an innate defense mechanism built into our human nature, has a tendency to reject anything that contradicts what we’ve been raised to believe, or culturally conditioned to believe. It’s an interesting thing, and I’ve found myself doing it, too. We allow our emotions to drive our thoughts and beliefs. The fact is, none of us know it all. None of us have arrived upon true knowledge.

My goal in life is to continually be open-minded. In my experience, being open-minded was looked at with fear and rejection. It meant that you would potentially invite new ideas in that are heretical in nature. Growing up with a “Christian” background under Republican views and practices boxed in my life for many years. I was conditioned to believe like those in leadership. It wasn’t until the last decade that I began to question everything. I began to think, does this belief or “truth” make sense to me? Such as, if a person is a self proclaimed Christian and believes every word of the bible, how is that he or she is adamantly opposed to helping refugees or homeless? It was these kinds of thoughts that I didn’t realize I swatted away as they came up in fear of being a heretic or fear of new beliefs and ideas and being “influenced by the secular world.”

I’ve always felt like the odd one, the one who didn’t agree with everyone else. I was ridiculed and talked down to because I thought differently. So, I stopped talking. I stopped expressing my feelings. I’ve had people gang up on me - the majority who all believed the same thing - and tell me I’m wrong. It was hurtful. But, still I stayed true to myself. I didn’t waiver. I knew what was wrong and what was right.

But, most people aren’t like that. Most people want to follow the crowds, be accepted, be popular and have everyone agree with them. They are terrified of rejection or appearing to look stupid. They are insecure and are afraid to cause waves. I don’t know if it’s the empath in me, but I’m open to people’s thoughts. I want to know what they are thinking. I want to learn about people and why they do the things they do. When people talk to me, I listen. I’ve always thought that if you listened to what is being said and by being empathetic towards the sentiments of another soul, you would learn more than you could ever have judging what is being said. I know that I DON’T know everything. In fact, the more I learn, the more I realize I know nothing! I’ve grown so much now I don’t care what people think. I speak up. I say what I think, and hope that I can at least plant a seed for someone to think about later. Now I realize that being an independent thinker is a good thing, and something to be proud of instead.

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