Consistency

Consistency

Ralph Waldo Emerson (above), Walt Whitman and Rev. Edward W. Clayborn (below)

As I get older, I care less for being consistent in my views.  I've been on a long odyssey, roaming free among the ideas of the world, and I've become increasingly aware that good ideas often exist at odds with one another.  Two of my favorite quotes, from two favorite thinkers:

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.  I am large, I contain multitudes."  - Walt Whitman
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We all do.  We all contain multitudes.  We all believe contradictory things - no surprise, since we live in a tangled-up, contradictory world. Rights and responsibilities, liberty and equality, companionship and autonomy, all clash in our minds and in our lives.

Over the course of a songwriter's life (or over the length of a concert or CD) a musician is bound to share thoughts that conflict.  Rev. Edward Clayborn, an early 20th-century slide guitarist and gospel singer, gives us  (in the same collection of songs) two entirely different views of friendship.  In "Your True Friend" he reminds us how precious and few our friends are, and in "Your Enemy Cannot Harm You, he says:  "your close friend, your close friend / your enemy cannot harm you, but watch your close friends."  
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There's truth in both ideas.    

I'm not advocating arbitrariness, contrariness, or flightiness - inconsistency isn't a virtue any more than consistency is.  But truths are multiple, some universal, some situational, some eternal, some temporary - and many are inconsistent with one another.  What contradictory ideas do you hold in your own life?
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Links:
Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance and Other Essays." http://tinyurl.com/bmlu993
Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself." http://tinyurl.com/bme44tl
Rev. Edward W. Clayborn, "Your Enemy Cannot Harm You." http://tinyurl.com/c76m77c
Rev. Edward W. Clayborn, "Your True Friends." http://tinyurl.com/d44q6e6

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Eyes and Ears: What I'm Reading, Listening to, and Watching
-Books
Steven Pinker, "The Better Angels of Our Nature:  Why Violence Has Declined" http://tinyurl.com/czv2ayv
Dan Cryer, "Being Alive and Having to Die:  The Spiritual Odyssey of Forrest Church"  http://tinyurl.com/bq4ce6x
-Music:
Joel Rafael, "The Songs of Woody Guthrie, Vols 1 & 2"  http://tinyurl.com/blbm3qb
Tony Scherr, "Twist in the Wind" http://tinyurl.com/bm6oh7z

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updated: 8 months ago