Above all, know thyself. No, its not the biblical term for masturbation. I mean the apparent phenomenon that many people don't actually know themselves well enough to anticipate their own reactions to any number of random stimuli. Or worse, the same stimuli under different circumstances. Yes, I run into this on a near-daily basis. I even have a helpful reverse-idiom of sorts at the ready for times I encounter it. Its my get out of jail free card. I ask more or less, "Is my request the first of its nature?" I ask it to anyone who's job it is to perform a very specific function, yet who appear genuinely surprised * when its my turn to ask it of them.
The Judeo-Christian systems of belief would have you believe that the meek are going to inherit the earth. Not meek as its defined now, as it was. To mean gentle, yielding. As in turning oneself over to the service of the Lord and not fighting against His Will (Thy Will be done). I've sat through many a sermon agonizing over and studying the original Hebrew dialect in order to gain understanding of the word choice first used by King David in Psalms and later by Christ in Matthew. After all, who doesn't want to inherit the earth?
Unsurprisingly, I feel differently. Not that I don't want to inherit the earth - I do, but that I alone shall inherit it. At least, myself and those of my ilk. For its not the meek who will do so, rather the open-minded; those who can integrate new information into their belief system and exceed the limitations of their programming. The funny thing about close-mindedness as an ethos is that it has a way of proving itself ineffective through active rejection of newly discovered knowledge. So if the close-minded can claim that they shall inherit the earth through close-mindedness, I can certainly claim otherwise - and I have a whole lot more confidence in the unprejudiced, unbigoted, and impartial than the millions of monotheists out there who would disagree with me. Close-mindedness just seems like such a dead-end way of life despite their unsubstantiated claims to the contrary.
I personally learn through a process of doing - hands on experimentation. Succeeding and failing both. If the outcome is not as expected, I change a variable and try again. Some people give up entirely upon their first failure and see any further attempts as fruitless defeatism. Others try and try again, but miss completely the learning portion of the lesson by refusing to change any variables. In this case, I feel that I am with what I have presumed is the majority - those who persevere no matter their ideology, and that I can at least respect.
Changing, growing, can be as difficult as attempting to define something as elusive as love. Some make lists of things they do which prove love, or have ideas about another's actions which would run contrary to that list, thus disprove it - after all, we all see the world differently. Myself? I only know the depth of my feelings of affection and devotion - without lists. The moment I've written it down it runs the risk of limiting me - slowing me down from experiencing something which may greatly add to my exposure. Lists can get confining fast, and most of us aren't into limiting our expressions of love, but growing them - exceeding both the expectations of others, and expectations of self. Think Old Testament versus New Testament. In the former "works" were required for blessings, in the latter only Grace.
And speaking of sweeping theological changes, ever since Christ said so then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will spue thee out of my mouth, I've been walking the narrow path between two camps of hotheads everywhere I go. No matter what the subject of conversation is, NO ONE WANTS TO BE SPEWED FROM JESUS' MOUTH. They therefore run full hot, or full cold, under the assumption that one is more important than the other, never bothering to question why, and only seeking council and advice from like-minded folk which is nothing more than egotistical validation. These people are incapable of feeling shame, replacing it with pride and calling it humility. How can I combat that?
I was a teenager when my mother explained to me that I needed to get to know myself. I thought she was an idiot - I was me for goodness sake - how could I not know me? Of course I discovered what she meant during the months I spent in near-isolation the first time I left home. 5,130 miles from home to be precise. And have since learned that there are other activities in which to acquaint yourself with...yourself. The same tools used in character-building can also illuminate autognosis if you allow it, as its something which requires nurturing. And despite my own series of scenarios of how I would behave in any series of circumstances, even I'm surprised by my own emotional reactions at times. Except that by adding that knowledge to my data-set then helps me in anticipating it in future outcomes, thus strengthening my armament for dealing with whatever life throws at me. Perfect? No. Better than being continually (and more often than not negatively) surprised by life? Absolutely.
I told a young man once what my father told me when I was a young man, "The severe polarity you feel righteously about is common amongst youth. As you grow, learn, experience and mature, you'll start to question everything. And when you do, you'll find you become more moderate in your views as you discover the truth, which always lies somewhere in the middle." I explained to this young man that my father's words were true because it was just as I had experienced it, and I wanted him to experience it as well. This freedom from a lifetime of ignorance. The youth said I was stupid for being so weak to turn away from [whatever the ideological conversation was at the time].
So go forth and be meek. Or not. Run hot and cold. It doesn't matter, you're not going to inherit the earth. I am. I will outlast you. I will try and fail and learn and succeed. My dizzying array of hands-on empirical activities will trump your hibernation because I am infinitely flexible. Entropy destroys that which is unchanging - like those principles you put so much stock into - but has a difficult time feeding from that which grows and I am on a path of personal growth. I'll get mine in the end, and this is why.