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The Quest for Understanding

Most people have a deep-seated desire for understanding — understanding the people we care about and ourselves, how to do things we want to do, why things are the way they are and uncovering new insights into familiar topics. As Plato said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

The Book of Knowledge

Knowledge and understanding are not always the same. I guess you could say that controversies as big as wars are the results of huge misunderstandings, although that sounds a bit simple.

Last night, a friend helped me to see another friend's viewpoint in a way that I hadn't before. Complicated issues can be unravelled piece by piece and from different angles, like taking instructions for putting something together step by step, patiently. Skip one step and the next one might not make any sense. We are not all the same and our minds do not all work the same way. Some people jump to one sort of reasoning while others automatically draw a different conclusion. If you care about people who don't necessarily jump to the same ways of reasoning that you do, it can be frustrating. But it is also rewarding when you gain insight into what another person cares deeply about which you had previously not been able to see. The metaphor of seeing is an interesting one in this case; to me, it's more like seeing than knowing. You finally "see" with your mind or heart. I am very grateful to have friends willing to take the time to help me see more of a panoramic view of human nature.

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