Strict Ideology or Success?
Several years ago, I heard a psychologist suggest that the ability to accept ambiguity was a primary–maybe even the primary–indicator of maturity. This was something I always remembered, especially since I must have been around 20 at the time and knew, whether or not I’d admit it, that I wasn’t particularly mature.
I remembered it because it had some truth about it, but I wasn’t able to reflect on it immediately. I was overtaken by that naivete and idealism most young people experience when they realize they can think on their own. That the world was not laid out in black and white was a message I desperately needed to hear, but didn’t want to and couldn’t.
It was much easier to think of these ideas as good and those ideas as bad, these people as righteous and those people as evil. It wasn’t for many years that I actually thought about what it meant to accept ambiguity in life and I was shocked and disappointed to see how much my strict ideology had worked against me, how much it had kept me from doing the things I actually wanted to do.
There were a good many people I didn’t bother getting to know because they hadn’t the proper opinions, there were a good many ideas I didn’t give deep consideration due to some salient aspect turning me off completely.
My determination to stick to a binary moral system kept me from excelling socially and professionally. I had principles, but little else.
While I’m most certainly not mature (far from it), I like to think that I’m heading in the right direction. The last few years have been an extended lesson in recognizing the good in all people, however bad, and the bad in all people, however good.
This quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gets to the point I’m trying to make:
Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains ... an unuprooted small corner of evil.
And for that, I’m reconsidering every “principled” judgement I’ve made in order that I can excel in the areas where excelling most matters to me, socially and professionally especially.
- August 23rd, 2013