July 29, 2008

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I woke up with the song “Sixteen Candles” running through my mind. I didn’t get the dyslexic pun until I realized that I turn sixty-one today. Technically, I’ve got several more hours at sixty, since I’m writing this at 6:22, and I was born at about 11am (at Christ Hospital in Jersey City).

In an unrelated matter, last night I attended an Obama gathering in Boston that was enjoyable except to the degree that three followers of Lyndon LaRouche kept bending conversation sideways toward their own ideological vectors.

When the evening was ending, I stood outside talking with one of the three (who had been told to leave by one of the meeting’s organizers). At first I thought we could have a conversation, but it wasn’t possible. The guy was not only convinced absolutely of his own (and presumably LaRouche’s) rightness, but resolutely paranoid. (Later he gave me a small pile of LaRouche literature. Not surprisingly, it was thick with paranoia.)

Aside from the nature of his opinions, I found it sad that a mind so young was so completely closed.

I remember realizing, at about age sixteen or younger, that I would never know everything, and that I should always stay curious about the world and open to facts that challenge my opinions. One might think that this would get harder as one gets older, but it doesn’t. It gets easier.

We need our opinions, our certitudes, our belief systems. Can’t get along without them. But even belief systems need new information. Being right is overrated. Being open is essential if we wish to grow as human beings. At any age.