Apologetics is one of those words that sounds so very familiar but the definition of which we absolutely cannot say. The word comes from a Greek word meaning “speaking in defense”. It is, quite simply, the discipline of defending a position through the conveyance of an organized and systematic presentation of information. Most people think of it in terms of religion but it actually is the defending of any strongly held opinion.
The French philosopher once said this regarding self-knowledge: “The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.” Have you ever felt that way? Take, for instance, a mathematics problem. The further along you go, the more complicated the problem becomes; the more intense your headache grows. Life can also be like that.
As children it is perfectly permissible to not know everything. In fact, one of the joys of childhood is learning new things. The first taste of a snowflake upon your tongue as it falls from the sky and then, later, the knowledge that all snowflakes may have six points but no two are alike. Such knowledge leads to an understanding of precipitation falling from the sky and the effects of frozen water. Yet, put ten scientists in a room and none will totally agree on climate change and the effects of such on that one, six-pointed, unique snowflake. If we can understand the snowflake and what causes it, why do we become so defensive about its future?
As adults, we seem to think absolute knowledge comes with each passing year and that knowledge encompasses all disciplines. The truth is, we are as ignorant as when we were children. Instead of finding joy in new knowledge, we seem to fear it. We need to embrace the learning process because it is a sign of being alive.
Our growing a new self and the knowledge of life and who we really are can often lead us to become students of apologetics. We either are defending our position and lifestyles or, in the more common use of the root word, uttering apologies for ourselves and said lifestyles. Unfortunately, sometimes we fail to do either and simply shout obscenities as a defense.
True knowledge allows for diversity. Nothing in nature and creation states or defends the position that we should all be the same. No one single variety of plant exists that has only one form. Everything goes through a metamorphosis of sorts. It is called a growing season.
Regrettably, the current political candidates in the U.S.A. are excellent examples of how childish some adults can behave. They have resorted to behavior patterns that a toddler would not be allowed to exhibit. They not only fail to illustrate their leadership abilities, they are lacking in self-acceptance and knowledge as well as policy issues.
Knowledge of self is an integral part of our human growth process and it never fully stops while one is alive. “I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.” Socrates knew that, while he knew a great deal, there was far more for him to learn.
Many people disdain those who read romance novels. They feel it to be a sign of lower intelligence or low class to read such. I could tell you how full of hope I believe such books to me or remind you that some of the earliest books were, in fact, romance novels. Instead I will just quote one of my favorite contemporary romance novelists, Kristan Higgins: “Commandment #1: Believe in yourself. Commandment #2: Get over yourself.”
There are a great many things that people feel indicate self-knowledge. Most are simply superficial masks that society somehow seems to feel acceptable. After all, how many adults do you dancing in the snow? It is simply “not done”. Such people are seen as not knowing how to behave as adults in public. Perhaps what they really know is themselves and the way to enjoy a late winter snowfall.
Columnist Ann Landers once explained self-knowledge and “class” – that level of acceptance that all are supposed to want to attain: “Class is an aura of confidence that is being sure without being cocky. Class has nothing to do with money. Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It’s the sure-footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life. ”
Who you are is your business. The purpose of this blog has never been to convince anyone about a particular lifestyle other than one of respect and nonviolence and good health. How you live those things is your business. However, you will only ever achieve happiness when you practice self-discipline and gain self-knowledge. Learn to accept and like yourself. It will be the best thing you will ever achieve.