July 16th, 2024

Flexibility gives us time to think more and avoid needless quarrel

By Lethbridge Herald on October 7, 2023.


The importance of accuracy and precision is exaggerated. It often causes needless disputes, divisions, and quarrels. We waste countless hours fighting over trivial differences that cause break-up of communities and relationships. Fighting could be deadly when it comes to customs, ideologies, policiesand religious doctrines. 

People have killed each other over clothes, hair, and other minor matters. As time passes, those disputes begin to look silly. We belong to one family of humans, not hostile animals. Can we not get along without calling them names? Can we not live with ambiguity until you can see the whole picture more clearly?

We must realize we are all different like our faces are different. A hundred people have a hundred different ideas. Differences are normal so disagreements are normal. Don’t fret over arguments because of differences. It is more important to find the ways to build a bridge than to fortify the wall and sharpen the knife.

Japanese people are sticklers for punctuality but they know how to live with ambiguity. They rarely say “No.” Instead, they say something like “Yes, but” so the question can be seen in context. Correct answer can wait if it causes a break-up of a relationship and sows a seed of hatred. It is interesting to notice that the Japanese language has neither definite article nor indefinite article to qualify a noun. 

So I had no idea what the fuss was all about when the delegates of a church assembly spent many hours debating passionately if the Bible is a foundation or the foundation of faith. It was at the United Church’s highest decision making body called “General Council.” I would be happy if it is close enough to what I believe in. Details can be sorted out when emotion cools down. I don’t apologize for fuzzy edges because flexibility gives us space to think more and lets us avoid needless quarrel and allows us time to continue talking. We live in ambiguity for a while until mist dissipates and an answer presents itself. Most of the time we are close enough to each other. Time will tell. Why fight?

Everything is relative. A veterinarian’s examination room had a sign, “A year for a human is six years for a cat. When you go away for a week, your cat will miss you for six weeks.” One minute is just like a flash. But two minute silence at the Remembrance Day Ceremony feels like eternity. When you get old, time flies too fast. But when you are a teenager waiting for a girlfriend at a bus stop, time feels like forever. It’s all relative. Time is uneven. Also there is no such thing as an absolutely straight line because the earth is round. So what we think we drew a straight line is actually a curve because the earth on which we stand is round. 

The shortest straight line between point A to point B is curved. What seems like reality for you may not exist. A star visible now could be billions of light-years away. So it could be billions of years old. It may no longer exist. 

Nobody knows what’s really real for sure. So why fight and hate people who think differently? I am happy we no longer burn a heretic at the stake. I am happy we don’t imprison and torture people who wear different clothes. But in history the people who claimed they possessed the truth decided those women who knew herbal medicine should be burned at the stake, because they were witches possessed by the devil.

We still behave in such ridiculous ways. An example is party politics. Instead of making it a useful way to reach decisions it has been turned into tribal warfare. The opposition party is the nest of vipers. We should “Lock them up!” Don’t you know they are our neighbours and compatriots?. We give up our lives to save them in a war. We are a family despite the different party affiliation. Let us live together in ambiguity as friends and express our political aspirations in a civilized manner. 

Some years later in the eyes of our great grandchildren the issues we thought so important will look silly. Let’s learn to live in ambiguity. 

Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui


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