“For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn’t give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.”
I was struck by the idea of a simplicity which exists on the far side of complexity. As I contemplated this idea, it occurred to me that simple answers have to earned — earned by working through complexity. Simple answers which precede such wrestling with complexity are not earned, and therefore tend to me wrong — or at least misleading.
This has been true in my own life, at least. I was raised in a religion which denied all complexities and painted the world in stark monochrome. I believed that it was heroic to deny ambiguities, and thus I blinded myself to life’s complexities. Life seemed much simpler at that time, but it was a simplicity that I had not earned. And in the end, it turned out to be false — as fundamentalisms tend to. I still long for simple answers — Do the gods exist, or don’t they? — but I find that when I grasp for them too quickly, that I am left holding the fool’s gold of a certainty cheaply bought.
Recently, an acquaintance from my wife’s (LDS) church came to visit us. I was impressed by this man’s wisdom. It was a wisdom of simple truths, which I suspect was earned by a life of struggle with complexities — which included being a Black man in the predominately white Mormon church with a history of racist policies and also having to struggle with serious mental disease. This man spoke several times of “love”, how love is the answer.
I think that there are simple answers out there, answers like “love”. Such answers still feel trite on my tongue, though. I think I have not yet earned them. But one day, I may win my way through the complexity to the simplicity which wise men ad women know.