[pros-uh-li-tahyz]

verb (used with object), verb (used without object), proselytized, proselytizing.

1. to convert or attempt to convert as a proselyte; recruit.
Opinionated as I am, I put very little personal stake in being right. I think what I do because I’ve made educated and reasoned decisions about a given topic. Or because I have listened to compelling arguments from other people who have brought me around to their way of thinking. Or, because it simply pleases me to do so.

This last one seems to present the biggest problem for other people; particularly those at the end of the intellectual spectrum that faces mystery as something to defeat or dispel. I should have good reasons for thinking what I do, they tell me. I should arrive at my conclusions only after climbing the mountain of arduous study, carrying the equipment of objective reason, and look down on the vista of most-likely outcome.

And, in some cases that is exactly what I do.

Yet in others, I feel this approach is not only misguided, it is downright counterproductive. There are things beyond counting in this universe we simply cannot know. I am comfortable with this ambiguity. I feel reassured by the understanding that there is no way to comprehend certain things. I find it both delightful and liberating to encounter certain experiences with the awareness they are beyond my ken.

Moreover, I trust my instincts. I was raised in an atmosphere where it was ordinary to accept the uncanny. It has made me an exceptionally credulous person, and while I’ve been accused of being a sucker, I would rather see things my way than through a veil of poisonous cynicism.

It would be a mistake to believe this means I scorn academic rigor, reject doubt as a philosophical process, or object to inquiry as a critical component to a well-lived and fully realized intellectual life. It is rather to say that I am best served by exercising each in their turn, and then when I have done all of that, discarding them should I find an answer I like better.

I say this not to imply I discard apparent truth for a version of reality I blithely prefer (at least, not most of the time) but instead that sometimes, it is harmless, symmetrical, and happymaking to allow the truth to be something not in perfect alignment with what is broadly accepted as the collective “reality.” I am familiar with that kind of dissonance, and I think it serves me very well indeed.

It is because I understand this isn’t really a defensible position that I have never tried to defend it. Pressed by people who wanted me to quantify my beliefs, I have resorted to simply saying;

“I believe what I do because I like to.”

This is a not very pleasing answer for a lot of people. Some of them are downright offended by it. My utter disinterest in convincing someone else my worldview is valid runs counter to a lot of the cultural messages we absorb. To my mind, I am in fact the only person who need believe what I do. I have never needed exterior validation for my point of view, and even if I am all alone in thinking what I do, it serves and satisfies such that I am content to stand within its borders all by myself. If my satisfaction disappears, I abandon my position with utter alacrity, and no sense of hypocrisy whatever.

For without ever having to defend my beliefs, I am perfectly content to relinquish them should better, clearer, or more compelling evidence present itself. I need retract no unequivocal statements about How Things Are because I have never really claimed to know.

And I suppose that is, in its way, something I could see the value in advocating, after all.