Monday, November 21, 2011


Since I wrote about axioms, I’ve been trying to reduce my world view down to its barest parts.  What are the foundational axioms upon which everything I believe rests?  How can I succinctly state the beginning from which I start to view and interact with the world?  It’s difficult.  

Which leads me to an interesting side thought—that we can’t live our lives like a geometry class.  (Which some people rejoice about!)  We don’t come out of the womb and are instantly handed our set of axioms.  Imagine the picture—baby comes out, doctor whacks your butt to make sure you’re breathing, cut the umbilical cord, and says, "Here are your four to six foundational principles, start figuring out the world outside the womb. Have a nice day!"  We don’t live a dry, clear cut, systematic theology.  You can’t.  Life is  messy.   We even come out messy, covered in blood.  You have to start in medias res, in the middle of things, and work out your world view from there. 

But, what if we are handed our axioms from the moment we exit the womb?  Do our surroundings and how we are brought up stamp our world view on us, like a plastic play dough mold?  I think so.  At least, our initial world view.  Hopefully we reach a point where we think about what we think about—come to the point of living an examined life.  At which point we choose to accept or reject the axioms of our parents, friends, teachers, media, leaders. 

So, tracing my way back from that rabbit trail—when I first started to try to encapsulate my axioms, I thought of an exercise to help boil down what you truly believed. 

  • First, take out a blank piece of paper (or blank spreadsheet) and write out your schedule, every single thing you do in a day, adding what you do weekly, monthly, yearly.  Nothing is too mundane (really), just get it all down. 
  • Second, next to each item, write why you do it.  Write the first thing that comes to you mind, don’t think too hard about it.  You can go back later and philosophize.  :o)
  • Third, re-list the items on your list in the order of the time you spend on each one. 
  • Finally, evaluate if the order in step three matches what you think your priorities should be. 

My idea behind this is that we will spend our time on what is important to us.  And what is important to us reveals what we truly believe.  With some reflection, we should be able to get to the axioms underneath.  What this exercise also shows is the difference between what we think we believe, and what our actions show that we believe. 

So what say you? Care to join me in this exercise?  For a lot of us this is Thanksgiving week, so in between turkey comas and crazed pre-dawn deal hunting, see if you can find some time to try the exercise out.  Let me know if you’re going to give it a go, and we’ll see what we find out!

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