un·cer·tain·ty – noun – the state of being uncertain
un·cer·tain – adjective – not able to be relied on; not known or definite
At it’s core, uncertainty derives from situations of imperfect or unknown information.
And this is what makes each person’s journey through life such a beautiful, wonderful, disastrous, messy, complicated and yet, miraculous adventure. People will make crappy self-serving decisions that have terrible outcomes. And yet, people also have the capacity to perform beautiful acts which spread happiness and joy onto others at the sacrifice of self. Life is a series of individual choices of various sizes and impacts, around degrees of uncertainty.
Today, more than ever, it seems like the rate of uncertainty keeps climbing. There is uncertainty everywhere in our world. Uncertainty of what is safe and what is dangerous. Of who we can trust and who we need to maintain distance from. Of what is real and can be believed compared to what is simply an illusion or a marketing scheme being used to promote someone else’s self-interests. It is this uncertainty that is tearing our world apart. Bit by bit, it is building up walls and barriers. Dividing people, making people look for their ‘tribe’ and exiling those who ‘don’t belong’.
Since 1950, according to Dictionary.com, the use of the word ‘uncertainty’ in everyday life has increased by almost double.¹ And in this time, it has seemed to manifest itself in growing everyday fears, insecurities, misunderstandings, anger, and resentment. Not too many good feelings brewing in that cocktail.
This cocktail (which is sure to leave a killer hangover) has caused more people to build walls, surround them with moats, protect their domain with guards, security systems, and weapons of every sort.
And yet, as I type about the danger of this mentality of ‘finding your tribe’ and chide against outcasting those who don’t fit within your own world view, as I think of these kingdoms we’ve built and the walls around them – a famous quote from bible teachings pops into my head ‘(s)he without sin, cast the first stone’ (John 8:7).
Yes, I too am guilty. I am the first to admit that. I am, at my core, an introverted person. In my youth, I was an extremely shy kid who just wanted to feel like she belonged (while also always marching to a slightly different beat of the drum). I have always really enjoyed finding people who I feel at ease with, who don’t stir up feelings of angst or worry, who have similar interests in life and enjoy doing similar activities. Those people feel like home. And I’ll be the first to admit that it can be really uncomfortable and definitely uncertain what will happen when you seek out people that do not fit into your mold.
When we feel uncomfortable and uncertain, it is easy to close the gates, shut down and turn away. To ignore the point of view that the other person is presenting. It label them as ‘different’ or ‘ignorant’ or whatever else might help you to reinforce your own point of view. I think this labeling has caused so much pain and hurt in the world which has been festering and breeding like unhealthy bacteria spreading infection.
They say true wisdom comes from trying to understand rather than being understood. i.e. That we should listen before we speak.
What would it be like to try and understand why someone else feels a certain way?
What does it look like to step outside our moats and castles, beyond the security and tribes we’ve built. To truly leave the coziness of our comfort zones?
That’s where the magic happens.
It is only through our collective choices that we can help to turn uncertainty, and the emotions associated with uncertainty, into positive energy. To turn our backs on fear and the emotions that stem from the darkness. Those emotions that hold us back and prevent us from leveling up in life, and reaching new heights.
You see – we each carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to make kind choices, but the very choice of kindness.² And this kindness can propel us all forward, individually as well as collectively.
¹ I always wonder how they really track these types of things with any true accuracy… but I’m just some random person typing away at random thoughts to be published randomly on the internet to be read by random people… so I guess a random fact belongs.
² Paraphrased from Wonder by R. J. Palcio