Recently I checked out an episode of the podcast, “The Indie Spiritualist,” that had an interview between host, Chris Grosso and renowned philosopher, Ken Wilber. I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of Ken Wilber without actually knowing much about his thoughts and ideas. The Indie Spiritualist has inspired me to learn more.
During the interview, Wilber said something that struck me. The way he said it made me think he’s said it on more than one occasion. He said, “Nobody’s smart enough to be wrong all the time.” It’s a clever turn of phrase, for sure, but it makes an interesting and worthwhile point. None of us is right or wrong, all of the time. There’s something inherently un-human about certainty and absolutes, while there’s something deeply humane about doubt, nuance, conflictedness, and the type of hard earned humility that comes from being wrong.
Over the last 18 months, many journalists, social critics, and concerned individuals have bemoaned the devolution of discourse in the public square. We talk at, rather than to one another. That is, if we talk at all. More often than not we’re screaming. Terrified by “the other” and his seemingly all-encompassing world view that leaves no room for doubt let alone transformation. That’s how many of us find ourselves. And despairing of the possibility of reestablishing civil discourse. We’re quick to dismiss entire segments of the population as being wrong, all the time. But when we do that, we’re giving them and ourselves too much credit. While we may reject their politics, their values, and their interpretations of reality, it’s simply unwise and unrealistic to assume that “they’re wrong all of the time.” Wilber is correct, nobody is smart enough for that.
Wilber suggests that we find ways to honor multiple worldviews and take from them that which helps us collectively move forward. While there are undoubtedly many worldviews that offer little in terms of advancing our collective humanity, there can only be a precious few that are completely lacking of some insight, nuance, or perspective that deserves at least our consideration if not our respect and affirmation.