November 11, 2010

Engage

I was talking to some friends recently about how we receive information.  We talked about the difference between learning and studying.

When you learn something, you're basically just receiving information. What you learn from someone could be right, or wrong, accurate or inaccurate.

When you study, you actively engage your subject matter.  You take what you've learned from one source and then filter it through what you've learned and experienced from other sources. You approach things with a critical (though not cynical) eye, always pursuing the truth—and being open to where that pursuit will take you.  Ultimately, studying allows you to reach a conclusion that you own.

I think we all like to reach studied conclusions, but it's so much easier to simply be spectators and accept whatever we hear as fact. In our consumer culture, the idea that you have to exert effort in order to attain, maintain and develop in the areas that are most important is foreign to many. For some reason we think that the truth is just lying around on the surface.

We have to make the effort to be fully engaged in our lives. We can't allow stress or routine or apathy to lead us to just go with the flow. We can't simply sit back and receive whatever is being thrown in our direction. We should come to develop our own perspectives and not simply parrot the perspectives of others.

No matter what the topic is, I think we owe it to ourselves to be full aware of what's going on around us and inside us. Let's actively engage our world and be willing to examine our thoughts, our motivations, our faith, our actions and our emotions.
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