Opinion: Hard lessons


Sometimes, we have to learn the hard way. It is not clear why we, the most intelligent of God’s creatures, struggle to take stock of the mistakes of the past and repeat them over and over and over again until we have found our own individualized path to enlightenment. Still, we most assuredly do.

Granddad would offer helpful suggestions to us kids as we set out to do our daily chores. Confident that our new and enlightened “way” would only confuse the old man, we nodded politely and then ignored his guidance. Sure, he’d been doing the job for 70 years or so and probably had gained a bit of experience along the way, but what did this guy know about things? This is a brave new world. We could certainly do it better now.

Hours later, knuckles bloodied and school pants torn, we’d return, defeated. Without so much as a deserved I-told-you-so, he’d put down his smoldering pipe, Captain Black would wait, and come to the barn to help. By learning the time-tested and then, and only then, challenging the standard from a point of both understanding and respect could we hope to improve the process. Change, wrought by ignorance or arrogance, seldom reaps any benefit other than more work. From then on, when advice was offered, most of us would gladly listen for a bit to the voice of experience.

Eager as we might be to make ourselves unique, improve upon the process, or simply not do it the way we are told, are we complicating our lives and ignoring the optimal runway to success? Do we intentionally debilitate our own progress just to ensure that we don’t give those before us the satisfaction of knowing that they, or those before them, developed a pretty good system to ensure human flourishing?