“The hardest thing to learn is that which we think we already know”

I saw this quote, quite some time ago, on a friend’s page, attributed to Robert A. Heinlein.

For some reason, it never struck me as something that would be generally applicable. Until several days ago, when I started to think some more about it.

The world was the center of the Universe. It took some serious effort to change that.

I guess we tend to not question what we already know. It would not be very productive if we did, at least not at every step.

But maybe on occasion we should stop and think about what we know – is that really the truth?

More than once (and too much over the past couple of days) I’ve seen us defending a position, not because it was the right one, but because we needed to justify the decision. You may notice that, sometimes, if you point something out to a person, they tend to become very defensive and argue, sometimes fiercely, what they think they know.

It happened to me before, and probably continues to happen all the time. As usual, I am better at spotting this in other persons than in myself. After all, I know myself, why would I be wrong? I’ve seen it happen to friends, to people I love, in them dealing with their own problems (in which at least I have no stake, which is the reason I can claim impartiality). It is heart-breaking how blind we can be when we try to justify (what I perceive, as an outsider, as) the wrong decision.

If I am allowed to quote from a movie, “Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.” I cannot  think of a better explanation that pride for this struggle to realize when we’re on the wrong wrong side of the fence, when it comes to human relationships.

Science may be wrong in some of its assumptions (just like in the geocentric example above), and that would have nothing to do with pride. But one person admitting their mistake takes a lot of un-learning.

If only we could see the difference between right and stubbornness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>