Faith and doubt play in different teams. Both seek the truth, but they often clash when they meet because neither holds the ultimate answer to everything. This causes people to feel compelled to pick a battle and stick with it. Some, however, prefer a different approach: sit on the fence until further notice.
Trying to please everyone is a sure way to failure, especially when it comes to controversial matters like spirituality versus science. Wilson Mizner believed the same. It’s okay to sideline yourself when it comes to contentious matters, but it’s equally important to spectate with your eyes peeled in search of your own answers. In one of his many fits of wisdom, the playwright once let out this clever bons mot:
I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.
So, Mizner didn’t quite embrace faith, but he respected it. He also acknowledged that progress heavily relies on inquiry, particularly the notion of probing truths that are deeper than the current understanding – challenging the status quo. He was one of eight brothers and although he had mastered penmanship from an early age, his play writing career was reportedly undermined by laziness and a drug addiction triggered by painkillers after an assault. Mizner, along with some of his brothers, would also partake in scams and other illegalities. During this time, he would continue to write.
Mizner is best known for his plays The Deep Purple (produced in 1910), and The Greyhound (produced in 1912). His best known film work is the screenplay for 20,000 Years in Sing Sing, directed by Michael Curtiz. He is lively remembered today not for his literary works, but for his witty repartee. Other famous quotes by the raconteur include, “Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet the same people on your way down,” and “Stealing from one is plagiarism, stealing from many is research.”
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