Emerson on Exploration

“Explore, and explore. Be neither chided nor flattered out of your position of perpetual inquiry. Neither dogmatize, or accept another’s dogmatism.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m applying this not to “dogma” in the sense of doctrine, but to our view of the gatherings of humans we are a part of, both families and churches. We have our own dogmas, our own points of view. Others will tell us their points of view. Rather than accepting our own perspective as it stands, or that of others, Emerson suggests we continue to be curious, and explore what is in front of us. This attitude will help our leadership and our relationships, because we can be open to new learnings about others.

2 Responses to Emerson on Exploration

  1. Thanks, Israel. Working on our own clarity is essential for leaders. Clarity evolves based on new learning, and dogma tends to be static.

  2. Constantly challenging our assumptions and getting in touch with our prejudices is hard work. And self-reflection can be both humbling and disturbing. There is a difference, however, between second-guessing ourselves due to insecurity, and working on critical discernment about our beliefs. The one can lead to stuckness and timidity while the other can lead to “exploration,” the exercise of imagination, and growth.

    Dogmas keep you stuck because they are the bedfellows of homeostasis, but clarity about the values that inform both beliefs and principles that inform our actions and decisions can help us “stand” in the midst of the storms of fickleness and reactivity.

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