Healthy Skepticism

IMG_7657.1

” It is enough that our fathers have believed. They have exhausted the faith-faculty of the species. Their legacy to us is the skepticism of which they were afraid.”     –      Oscar Wilde

I don’t agree with all that Wilde says here, but there’s much truth in his words about, “…the skepticism of which they were afraid.” Why is it that as people grow older they tend to tighten up in their beliefs and stance towards life?

Surely the passing years need to move us in to a deeper openness and realization of just how little we know. Isn’t that the source of true wisdom? Too often it does the exact opposite. Ageing needs to move hand in hand with a healthy and constructive skepticism. If it doesn’t, it really has very little to contribute. There’s nothing more tragic than an old dogmatic fossil.

Advertisements

About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in inspiration, Life, Photography, Poetic Imagination, Spirituality, wisdom and insight and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Healthy Skepticism

  1. Healthy A-Z says:

    This is an insight I had never considered. I definitely see it now. Hmmm, I think I’ll grow older skeptically.

    Like

  2. Interesting thought, Don. The curmudgeonly folk of the world would be far happier, and wiser if they simply opened their hearts and minds. We should never stop learning no matter how old we are. Love the gnarly old tree photo.

    Like

    • Don says:

      Curmudgeonly – what a lovely word LLBG. Someone describes it as a person who would express distaste at decorations in a nursing home. I’ve just learnt a new word, thank you. I agree we never stop learning

      Like

  3. nrhatch says:

    Always better to go through life with open mind, eyes, and heart . . .

    Like

  4. Hudson Howl says:

    Help, am confused. I think am lost. Maybe this is well over my head. Is it skepticism or cynicism which inflicts when were long in years. With age I always thought it more being cynical. Where skepticism is doubting or questioning the beliefs of the times, Skepticism if reasoned is not such a bad thing. Cynics convert most into negative, gone is the will for resolve. Show me the way Don.

    Like

    • Don says:

      “Skepticism if reasoned is not such a bad thing” – you’ve said it Hudson. That’s precisely it. I think sometimes it’s that kind of skepticism we let go of and we become far too fixed and absolute in our stance and beliefs as the years go by. For me healthy skepticism is as you say, a doubting and a questioning of the stances and beliefs of our time, not always a breaking away from them, but a transformation of them through new insight and developments. Thanks Hudson – great comment.

      Like

  5. Kathy Marsden says:

    Without being too complicated I think it’s about being open to the new. I’m taking a service tomorrow at a frail care centre. I chose a comment made by Jesus as the lead text: Luke 5 : 39 “And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good'”. Barclay says it’s an ironic comment. And so it is, although my first response to it was because old is also associated with mature and wise and….so on. But in rejecting the new wine Jesus observed that they would lose out because it would mature and become the best! Bodies waste away at an alarming rate but minds – while we have them – don’t have to!
    Blessings, Don, and thank you for the new wine of your blog. Kathy.

    Like

    • Don says:

      Wonderful metaphor that, Kathy. I think it certainly is always being open to the new. That’s not to say that the new is always constructive and right, but an open discernment and the courage to change when necessary is the path, I think. Thanks again Kathy for your thought-provoking comment. Hope you’re keeping well.

      Like

      • Kathy Marsden says:

        Yes, I am. Thanks. Taking early retirement as from Feb. For me it’s an alternative source of income, and business as usual, with a call to simplicity and contemplation! Just could not continue trying to raise the assessment, Don. The need to do this made it more about me and less about the work. I’m so much lighter since I made the decision – feel as though I’m working for a new boss!

        Like

    • Don says:

      I can imagine your struggle, Kathy. I think you’ve made a wise decision. May new things open up for you in this year. Thanks for sharing that and I know you’re going to be just fine. You are a wonderfully resourceful woman.

      Like

  6. I am not sure how old ‘older’ is but I have found, strangely enough, that the older I get the more skeptical I become. I find myself asking more questions and taking more time to reason on things rather than just accept them. As an example, when I was younger, I voted for a certain party because that’s what my dad did and I assumed he always knew best. I still vote for the same party but now it is because I have given it a great deal of thought and believe that is the best use of my vote. The same applies to matters of religion and faith.

    Like

    • Don says:

      I think that’s marvellous Jacquie. If that’s what is happening to you, it’s a real gift. I believe it’s an attitude and an approach to life which needs to be continuously nurtured and protected. Nothing like flexibility of spirit at all stages of life. It’s a beautiful thing. Really appreciate you sharing.

      Like

  7. dmgartphoto says:

    I think it is (can be) both ways. As you grow older you hopefully grow wiser and you know more of what works or not. I think I am still good at taking on new ideas myself (of course 🙂 ). But I am also better at figuring our the potential consequences of them, i.e. see the risks. By younger members of our species this can surely be seen as progress stopper.

    Like

    • Don says:

      I like what you say. I think it’s true. We probably do become a lot more cautious and discerning as we get older. No doubt this cautiousness is a good thing, but I wonder to what extent it can also sometimes solidify us in life. We become so aware of potential consequences we freeze up and the first signs of a possible rigidity make themselves known. Thank you for your meaningful comment.

      Like

      • dmgartphoto says:

        For sure we stiffen in our neurons as life moves on and our prejudices get confirmed again and again. Often, but not always we get more blind for new things as they are filtered out by the prejudices we have. 🙂

        Like

    • Don says:

      I agree. Our prejudices can be devastating. Thank you. Great chatting with you.

      Like

  8. wisejourney says:

    I see a whole new world of possibilities and exploration opening up as I grow older and you have made me think about open-mindedness…I think I am more of that too..hope so

    Like

  9. Definitely something to think about 🙂

    Like

  10. ladyfi says:

    So true! Wisdom doesn’t always come with age.

    Like

  11. Greg. says:

    Einstein declared the idea of a personal god to be naive, and yet was “struck by the luminosity of the Nazarene…”
    The recent Higgs bosun discovery of the so-called “God Particle” has none other than Mr Higgs himself at odds with the Richard Dawkins type of closed attitude towards the faith/science debate. The comments so far display healthy open mindedness, just like the older and younger men of science named here, who’s discoveries have and will yet change our view of our wonderful world.

    Like

    • Don says:

      Thanks Greg. You’ve put it so well. As you no doubt know , there are times when I see no distinction between Fundamentalists and the stance that Dawkins takes. One and the same thing. They just speak about different things. The one is as dogmatic as the other.

      Like

      • Greg. says:

        Mandela is a true example of the way towards a united humanity, and Gandhi said we must be the change we want to see in the world. Deepak Chopra says the answer lies in God-consciousness as the link between reality and illusion, and that we are all capable of defeating the ego to achieve this end. But keep going, Don! It’s all inspiring stuff!

        Like

      • Don says:

        He certainly is. Not going to be easy when he is no longer with us. Thanks for your comment Greg. Good stuff.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s