Anti-Complexity: the American Way

One of the many things that one can say about this country is that we dislike complexity. So we make simple solutions to everything we possibly can even when the complex answer is obviously the correct answer or the more intriguing answer.
- Peter Gomes

Mitch and I were up late one Friday night, and we watched the pilot episode of "The Fall", a Northern Irish crime drama about a serial killer who's scary and creepy in a sad, mundane way. (Kyle Ritter says it's the most intense thing he's ever seen! Or something.) The pilot itself was enough to give us our fair share of bleakness, so we searched Netflix for a palate cleanser. 

I ended up watching some of the "Stephen Fry in America" series because I love Stephen Fry to the ends of the Earth. Mitch fell promptly asleep. The show was okay, and before this post turns into a play-by-play of what I watched on Netflix, I should get to my point. (See quote above!)

Stephen Fry met with Peter Gomes, the then pastor and professor of divinity at Harvard. 

Peter Gomes is a gay black Republican pastor who, among other things in this clip, talks about American's disdain of complexity. (As if to prove his point, the title of this clip on YouTube is "He Exists: A Gay, Black Republican" like those things were antithetical.)

It reminds me of an ad that I see at my gym which reads "Is Plate Color the Key to Weight Loss?" While color might impact our dietary habits to some (small) amount, it's pretty obvious that weight loss and dietary/nutritional health is impacted by a large number of factors. No matter what "Lose Belly Fat with this one Weird Trick" internet sidebar ads try to tell you.

Then there's also the waves of nonverbal-communication obsession that seems to ebb and flow. It's relied upon in police interrogation interviews with questionable effect. It would be so simple if our bodies gave us away when we lied, but for as often as that's been in vogue, it's proved to have little to no reliability.

Gomes goes on to say, "The notion that God could have two thoughts simultaneously [...] is hard for many Americans to believe."
Exhibit A

In the name of simplicity, Christians tend to banish large swaths of people to hell, police gather false confessions, and weight watchers buy fiestaware. But it's not just where the simple answer is wrong that's a bummer. Like Pastor Gomes pointed out, the complex answer is often the more intriguing one. In our clear cut, yes/no, way of looking at things, we're in danger of making our understanding of life rather dull.

Unless, of course, you watch "The Fall". In which case, you know that every guy you see on the street is probably a serial killer - not dull at all. Godspeed, everybody.

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