Certainty is an “is or isn’t” proposition; black or white, yes or no. People want certainty. We want to be completely clear about what is going on or what something is. Without that certainty, we feel…unsure, confused, and a little upset. In most cases we don’t even realize why we are upset, just that we are and that too, that lack of certainty about the cause of our discomfort, increases our discomfort level. The proverbial vicious cycle. But there are very few truly certain things in our universe—and with the rapid rate of change we are subjected to, the amount of uncertainty is only going up—so it is no wonder that the level of confusion and ill will is also rising.
Just look at any debate online…you’ll see it. You’ll see people trying to push others into very clear and certain roles, into specific categories. We want people to be defined by very specific criteria; Republican or Democrat, black or white, liberal or conservative, us or them.
We feel better that way.
But why? What is uncertainty and why do we fear it? It has been argued that it is evolutionary…that our DNA urges us to try to answer questions about our environment and the people around us because unanswered questions have, or they did thousands of years ago, the very real danger of hurting us…even killing us. Nature urges us to protect ourselves and uncertainty breaches that protection. While I would never say that we live in a society that is completely free of danger, I am pretty sure I can say with some authority that there is unlikely to be a large predator stalking me on my way to work this morning. Or that I have to think about the edibility of the sandwich I packed for my lunch.
However certain those things are, there are still millions of others that aren’t, that are neither side of the spectrum…or both sides at once, or none at all. There are millions of things that defy us to categorize them into neat little piles, into specific classes and categories.
Like people…we can’t categorize them—as hard as we want to and try—and that pisses us off.
So, the question is, in this universe of uncertainty that we live in, do we charge head first into it and try to force it to answer anyway…knowing full well that we can’t ever really make things certain…and continue to be upset and allow that to escalate and ultimately stand between us and happiness? Or do we embrace uncertainty—celebrate it even—and simply accept the answers; unfinished, unclear, imprecise…but already here?
One choice is easy, the other quite hard.
Believe. Go. Do.