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“One Improved Unit” is an original bi-weekly column appearing every other Monday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by the founder and editor Skyler J. Collins. Archived columns can be found here. OIU-only RSS feed available here.
Life continues apace. As much as my kids are learning about their various interests, I’m learning about mine. Unschooling, or life learning, is just that. It doesn’t begin at school-age, and doesn’t end at the onset of adulthood. Learning begins at conception (really) and should continue until your last breath. A phrase I use oft here is “over the last ten years,” and that’s because that time has been well spent, pursuing what’s interested me most, understanding new things, and growing as an individual. I hope to live the rest of my life doing what I’ve been doing that last ten years. It’s been a search for truth. And therein lies both my allegiance and my motivation.
I almost want to say that truth is my religion, or that truth is my god. But I think that might be pushing it. Of course, I would not worship a god or embrace a religion that I did not at the moment believe was true. Right now, that’s Mormonism. I find it incredibly fascinating. Of all the reasons I have to practice Mormonism, the idea that an uneducated farmboy wrote a five hundred plus page religious text spanning a thousand year period, full of doctrine and lengthy religious discourses, internally consistent, over just a two month period of time, is probably the strongest. I have yet to encounter a more coherent explanation for the origin of the Book of Mormon than Joseph Smith’s. As its the keystone of the Mormon religion, likewise its the keystone of my allegiance to Mormonism.
I do not intend to use this space to preach my faith, but I will add that one of my favorite things said by the Mormon prophet Brigham Young was, “‘Mormonism,’ so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it… ‘Mormonism’ includes all truth.” That’s been very reassuring. And who could not say likewise about their own faith if they really thought it true?
And though my search for truth began with religion, it did not end there. Because Mormonism claims to hold all truth as its own, I’ve felt perfectly free to pursue truth everywhere. And as I’ve done so, I’ve brought many different things into my mind to study and think about. Some things I’ve rejected, and others accepted, and still others rejected at first but accepted later on (anarchism, for example). What good is a search for truth if you’ve completely closed your mind to the possibility that what you think is true is not, and vice versa? How could you possibly grow by hanging on to fallacy?
I even, from time to time, entertain things that seem contrary to the religious ideas I hold as true. That can be very painful, and has been, but my faith is such that I believe that the truth can be known. I have nothing to fear from it. If I discover something devastating to Mormonism, so what? I’ll give it some good thought; really wrestle with it. I won’t forsake my faith so easily (all such challenges to date have failed), but my primary allegiance is to the truth. Do I expect to be a Mormon the rest of my life? I don’t know, but I do expect to be searching for truth, wherever and everywhere it’s found.
I’m sure that you consider ideas as true that contradict ideas that I consider true. They can’t both be true, if they’re truly contradictory. There’s probably even contradictory ideas that I hold as true within my own mind. But that’s because the search for truth is a process; it’s an evolution, that can be quick for some ideas and take a lifetime for others. I try not to be so dogmatic that I turn people away. How could I learn from them if I do? Regrettably, I’m sure I have, but hope I won’t anymore. Such is life. We live, we learn.