Thursday, February 25, 2016

Known knowns as stones

Several times in the past My Minnesota has made reference to either:
It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
Mark Twain
or to
It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so.
Will Rogers
Just the other day, I ran into yet another example of the veracity of these sentiments, but, fortunately, did so without giving myself too much trouble.

lower St. Croix river
lower St. Croix river
Photo by J. Harrington

Right up until I read a recent article about looking for agates along the St. Croix river, I "knew" that, in Minnesota, you looked for agates along some of Lake Superior's North Shore Beaches. That just ain't so. I probably misled myself by leaping to conclusions (me?) since I'd seen (and have a copy of) Rock Picker's Guide to Lake Superior's North Shore but hadn't come across a similar reference for anywhere else in the state (nor had I looked for one).

I bring all of this up today because next week Minnesota holds its political caucuses, as part of this country's presidential election process. I've noticed more and more that, instead of simply differentiating between politicians and political parties, the electioneering sounds increasingly as if each candidate and party believes they are the only answer to our future, rather than an option for our future. I'm as guilty of falling into this kind of thinking as everyone else, I suppose. That's why I'm reminding myself that, just as there may be more than one agate on a beach, there's more than one beach that holds agates and I'll probably never find a perfect agate on a perfect beach. For next Tuesday, and next November 8th, we need to remember that we're all in this together and that "we all do better when we all do better." Let's stop throwing rocks at each other. [Also remember Yoda: "Do or do not. There is not try."] All of the preceding is part of my efforts to (re)train myself to think in terms of both / and rather than either /or. The world we've made for and with ourselves seems more and more to require it.

Men Say They Know Many Things

By Henry David Thoreau

Men say they know many things;
But lo! they have taken wings, —
The arts and sciences,
And a thousand appliances;
The wind that blows
Is all that any body knows.


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