Navigation only helps when we follow it. And sometimes, navigation can lead us astray. We trust the wrong guides.
I enjoy driving. I also don’t get turned around too easily. I tend to navigate fairly well, and before the days of GPS, I’d often relinquish the driver’s seat in order to provide the next steps with fair warning and occasional reminders. Even with GPS, I incorporate my common directional sense as I drive. If it doesn’t make sense, I often alter the route a bit, not because I think I know more than the positioning system but because it’s a system. In most ways, it knows so much more than I do, but it misses the human element. Sometimes, missing the human element is a good thing. It weeds out directional confusion and poor spatial and landmark memory. But sometimes, common sense is just what we need to add to the guidance of GPS.
It seems as if we’re willing to trust some wonky sources and distrust some that, while not perfect, have more credibility than the ones we cling to. We seem to be less willing to do the difficult work of sorting through the sources and the information we’re encountering. Simultaneously, we seem to quickly jump on a bandwagon when a person or group we connect with says, “This source is no longer handling truth well. But this one will, so let’s support and follow that one instead.” It’s as if we’re willing to abandon ship and quickly jump onto another one without knowing much about it. We think it’s too much work to ask, “Why is it a poor source? Is my concern a pattern, or is this isolated? Am I using my own common sense and wisdom, or am I willing to believe what someone else tells me about it? Am I reading articles or headlines? Do I even know the source of the information? Do I choose this because it’s easy to choose what I agree with?”
We cry foul when something posted online is pulled or flagged because of the content, but we’re not willing to put in the effort of thinking for ourselves. We have allowed crowd thinking to stir up the things that deteriorate our society. We have excused hatred by calling it accountability. We have excused violence by calling it unavoidable. We have excused selfishness by calling it standing for core values. We have created many of the problems we are now crying foul about.
The remedy is a long process. We’re going to have to follow sound directions while infusing wisdom every step of the way—with a bunch of humility soaking every step. We don’t need to argue every twist and turn (but we need to discern the ones we must). Just because we take one route doesn’t mean we won’t see some who take another route farther down the road. Because we’re more alike than we think at times. Even when it seems we’re heading in different directions, we can’t see the details of the future. I think we all have experiences that have taught us that.
Have we placed confidence in the wrong places? Or maybe we have confidence in who or what matters most but we’re not following the approach required to follow well. Are we willing to learn and shift the roads we take? Are we willing to explore? Are we willing to engage with others along the way? If not, we’re going to miss out on some beautiful views and important pit stops.
Let’s get better and quit getting distracted or misguided. If we don’t get better, we’re going to end up in a ditch.