Coming Of Age

Getting older is not all bad, which is good considering the alternative. When I wore a younger mans clothes I was much surer of things than I am today. If a scientist or leader made a statement, it must be true, for they had done the work and would never take a stand on an issue or make a scientific pronouncement without fully thinking it through, facts in hand, double-checked.
Years ago, I belonged to the World Future Society; I looked forward to their periodical The Futurist arrival in the mailbox, there was an author whose column I particularly looked forward to reading. My copy arrived and though I tried to restrain myself from going straight to my favorite author I was soon reading his piece.  It was written with the usual flair and style I enjoyed but something left me unsettled. I dismissed it and decided to reread the piece later with fresh eyes.
I did and the feeling was still there, something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it and decided that  something must be lacking in my ability to understand the points being made since the author was a learned man twice my age and I “liked” him so it had to be me.  
In the article a number of government statistics were cited so I made the decision that I needed to further educate myself since clearly the problem was mine and not the authors, so off to the library I went. Being a regular, yep, once a geek always a geek, I went straight to the reader/projector, plopped in my fifty cents and asked the librarian for the appropriate microfiche (how’s that for dating oneself). In just a few minutes the problem became clear, the author had transposed the statistics! I felt proud that I had caught it and sad at the same time for the poor schlub who had obviously provided the author with the bad information he had based his assumptions upon, the actual statistics proving his conclusion false. Feeling pretty good about myself, I surmised the next issue would address it and all would be right in the world.
Being a bimonthly, I had to wait a bit for the next issue. It arrived finally and lacking any pretext, I went straight to his column. Nothing. He had written on a completely different subject. I was stunned. Then the thought came to me that the article addressing the error probably was not ready in time for this issue since I am sure he was double checking everything himself, making sure he got it right. Satisfied I read the issue and pretty much forgot about it.  
When the next issue arrived, I again went straight to his column. Well, I was right. He most certainly addressed it in no uncertain terms. The article was a particularly hard-edged attack at all the people who had questioned his facts! The entire article was a rant attacking anyone who questioned him. No retraction or comment from the editors was ever forthcoming. I did not renew my membership when it came due.
I did not realize it at the time but this moment was a coming of age. There have been many others since. Coming of age spiritually requires turning out our sacred cows and staying fresh for new experience and knowledge. Keep an open mind and heart, stay on the firing line of life and if something does not sound or feel quite right, keep an open mind, trust your instincts and do your own homework.

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