Complexity matters — especially in politics

Complexity matters. Nothing is as simple as it seems. Complexity is your friend. It calls you to continually search for truth and understanding.

People are complex. To think you know someone based on one issue is naiveté. When you disagree with someone, there’s usually much about their opinion that you don’t understand.

If some people were good and others were bad, politics would be simple. The fact that there’s good and bad in everybody complicates things. All human opinions (including this one) are a mixture of various degrees of truth, confusion, and deception.

Life is complex. To see it as simple robs us of wonder, awe, amazement, and mystery. Anybody can simplify a complex political problem, but it takes courage and wisdom to fully and honestly examine it.

Truth is paradoxical. It’s beyond the ability of humans to fully understand. To be uncomfortable with paradox and ambiguity is to be uncomfortable with truth.

Many apparent contradictions are paradoxes–truth that’s too complex for human minds to fully understand. If we understood paradox, we would understand each other better. Both sides of a paradox contain truth. Thus, rejecting paradox docks your understanding of reality.

If you’re not confused about politics, you’ve probably settled for superficial slogans and sound bite answers. If you’re stuck in oversimplified, polarized conflict, trying to see things from the other side will help. Not to think and grapple with truth, is to make life simpler than it should be.

If you think and ponder, instead of getting mad, conflict can release rivers of creativity. If you can only argue one side of an issue, you’re thinking is too small.

Any political opinion that requires few brain cells to conceive, but much anger to defend, is probably inaccurate. We need to expand our understanding so we can grasp complex ideas, not compress complex ideas to match our understanding.

Complex problems are seldom solved by opinionated emotion. They require expanded thinking, not narrow mindedness. Inflammatory language is almost always based on over simplifications. The unwillingness to accept some ambiguity causes many problems and much deception. The ambiguity of life is too big for you to ever explain away.

Complicated ideas are a threat to our ego–to our mental pride–so we tend to simplify them to fit our understanding. Our complex political problems need more than simple, one-sided solutions. If either my simple political solution or your simple political solution worked well, we wouldn’t be arguing about them.

Seeing truth from your own perspective isn’t a lie, but it’s also not the entire truth. To simplify a complex concept to fit your own understanding, is to compromise the truth. If you won’t listen to the whole story, you’ll be stuck with a half-truth.

Political issues are much more complicated than our emotion-driven opinions. The working of the human brain and emotions is a great complexity. Telling people to “get over it” is an unfounded simplification.

Political debate has been simplified into the consistent repetition of half-truth, while denying the other half, however, nothing is as simple as a sound bite. Transforming the complicated into the simple usually whittles away much truth.

At some point, the simplification of truth morphs into error by leaving out important information. Facts I don’t like, also matter. To leave them out of my opinion is self-dishonesty. To give a simple answer to a complicated situation and demand that people agree with you, is arrogance.

When people disagree they’re often focused on different parts of the same truth. The simplification of complex issues often peels away truth and leaves us with a partial-truth.

Simple answers seldom contain all the facts. Insisting on simplifying complex concepts causes much divisiveness. The over simplification of complicated ideas leads to the multiplication of conflict. The urge to simplify everything causes much misunderstanding in human relationships.

We need each other. Many of the essential workers you rely on, don’t vote like you! Although humans no longer live as hunter-gathers of food, we all desperately need to be hunter gathers of truth.

American history is much more paradoxical and complex than text books show. Check out my book: Off the RACE Track–From Color-Blind to Color-Kind.

Simplicity’s not what it’s cracked up to be. Complexity matters.

About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @ http://amzn.to/2nCr5dP
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