____________________, period!

aaron burden y jEX B O unsplash

How often do you hear some make an assertion, like “Everyone should stand for the flag” or “We need stricter gun control laws” or “Life starts at birth”, and then follow it with a definitive “Period!” In today’s polarized times, I seem to see it everywhere, from every political viewpoint, from every walk of life.

And whether supporting some fringe far-right looney bin viewpoint or what I consider to be a quite sensible and important progressive policy, these assertions are always destructive. They always limit possibility and curiosity. They always erode at the complexity required to even begin to operate in today’s society. They betray the truths and wisdom of life that I find most valuable and essential for building the world we want and need.

These definitive “Period!”s assert that nothing can possibly come after that could improve upon that statement. Certainly not a “but”, but not even an “and.” The speaker’s assertion perfectly embodies truth and is all one must consider to grasp the issue at hand. The speaker has made up their mind beyond all doubt or curiosity. They are closed. They are now more committed to feeling right than being helpful.

I beg you, please stop saying this. Don’t stop believing your beliefs. Don’t stop having strong opinions on what’s right and wrong. Don’t become afraid to speak truth to power.

Just recognize that your beliefs and perspectives are only a piece of the puzzle. That’s all they ever can be. There is no statement in the universe that has a monopoly on truth, that can’t be expanded and improved upon. There will always be unknown wonders beyond our grasp. As we dig deeper, we only find more questions, more conflicting truths to embrace and surrender to.

This balance of resolute belief and humility is the fundamental orientation of any effective change agent. Let us remain ever open to the certainty that there are truths that humans have yet to unearth, shades of gray that have alluded, complexities that we do not yet have the capacity to comprehend. Let us first and foremost be open to possibility. Because the future we want and need is one that has not yet been fully imagined.

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