Constant conundrums

If you’re one to glance at cutesy sayings that float around social media, you’ve probably seen this one:

All generalizations are false, including this one.

It’s actually a very insightful statement. Each of us—myself included—would be well advised to keep ourselves in check about making too many generalizations. And while we’re at it, consider a corollary I came up with:

All constants are true, except this one.

My wife’s cousin asked on Facebook this morning which choice of two different reactions to a scenario was better. In short, my answer was, “it depends.”

Yeah, that seems like a cop-out answer. Yet, as I see it, we humans seem to rely too heavily on things being constant. We feel good when we can apply a rule to a particular situation with the mentality that this rule always works in this scenario. I’m as guilty as the next person.

The reality is, as I see it, God’s love is the only constant that exists in the universe. Everything else is a variable. If you think about everything in your life that you’ve always believed should be done a certain way, you will realize that situations do exist where the right thing to do is deviate from that pattern.

Whether it’s meaningless simple choices, corporate policy, or an ethical life choice, it depends!

We should be willing and able to bend when necessary. Doing so enables us to handle situations that we couldn’t handle if we stuck to constants. Consider the support structure of large buildings. One might think the steel beams used in construction have to be a rigid as possible for the building to be stable. Yet, engineers know very well that such buildings have to be able to flex a little bit in order to survive severe winds. A rigid structure is prone to snap when faced with high winds, but when the structure is designed to be flexible, rather than snapping, it simply sways a bit in the wind. Sure, standing at the top during such winds may be kind of a scary ride, but you’d be safe.

So too with us. Never assume the same answer or rule always applies to every instance of a particular situation. Whether you’re standing at the top of a swaying building, or making a choice which you know is the right choice, even though it goes against all the experience of your past—it may be frightening but, in the end, you’ll be just fine.

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