Jan 21, 2012

Changing Your Mind or Not

Someone once praised Marcel Proust - I believe it was him - saying he was a consistent man who had never changed his mind in his whole life. As a good thing, it was said that all his writings were consistent and had never, ever written a single word in his life - from the early age to his elder days, that contradicted any other. Instead of instilling in me wonderment and admiration - as the writer intended - it made me think about how sad and sterile has to be his life. This idea that this condition of always being the same, never changing positions was good has been defended before... though maybe it's not so cool to mention here that it was regarding how much cooler Son Goku was when compared to Vegeta, since Vegeta changed his character while Son Goku never did. Yeah, lame, nerdish even, but even then there was this thing: changing your mind, your character is a sign of weakness.

It's kind of interesting how this is seen this way in an era full of gurus that advocate for change. "Change is good", "you should change ever so often" and stuff like that.

Recently, reading a post by Fire Lyte, he mentioned an article he wrote some years ago, titled "The Pagan Secret", and mentioned how someone asked him whether he would remove it from where he posted it, now that his position and opinion has changed. (No, he won't.) I found it quite sad - to put it somehow - that he had to or felt the need to defend this right to change his mind, or even have contradicting opinions. I read his defense and thought about it, but can't fully accept it as my position on the matter is different: "yes, I wrote that, I believe that, I changed my mind about some parts - but I won't deny what I used to believe - and now I believe and stand for this as well".

Explaining the duality - more than defending it! - is quite a difficult task, because singularity is easier to process. In a show Chris Rock said "you are not just liberal or just conservative. You are liberal about some things and you are conservative about other things", so yes, duality is normal and can be accepted. Also, often the very people defending the fact that change is good, also advocate for the opposite: people who change are weak.

As in everything, extreme positions are not only not good, but they are not fitting. No matter what you do, no matter what you think of, or what do you defend, extremes are bad. In the particular case of opinions and taking positions, as humans, we don't choose a side and stay there, but what often goes on is a process of learning. You get in touch with something, or enter a group, and you start your learning process. From the begining you will form yourself an opinion about things, and that opinion could either be strengthened, adjusted, modified or proved wrong, discarded and replaced by a new one. Is this bad? Hell, no! You are not supposed to know everything in advance! if so, what would be the fun of life? So, from this side, change is neither a good or a bad thing, but a natural thing - just as breathing is neither good nor bad, or eating is neither a good or a bad thing (the good and the bad comes from the direction we want those actions to take).

However, in order to grow, you certainly need to deepen your contact with a certain opinion, a certain position, and explore it. For this you have to stay there and follow the very path you have chosen.  Externally, socially, the consistent behavior or character of a person is desired for that gives it a vote of trust. A consistent person becomes dependable. Internally, for yourself, a set opinion gives you a philosophical platform from which you can explore the rest of the world, the rest of the areas of knowledge you are interested in, and against which you can compare, measure and relate. Changing, thus, isn't bad, but staying enough to form a platform, a life path, is esirable either.

From Marcel Proust, the general opinion I've got is that there is a person that has never opened himself to the world, never let it in, never allowed the external world to permeat his internal world, and thus his internal world - cut also from it's natural growth - died inside him like a stillborn and rotted inside him. I read of Marcel Proust and can't help but think: "what a sad waste of a perfectly good life". I think of Vegeta and what comes to mind is that there's a man who dared to learn, dared to adapt and was strong enough to allow his mind to break free and explore new turfs and adopt them.

Through our life we are given the oportunity to broaden our experiences, to accumulate knowledge and incorporate all that organically into our lives. We can access knowledge and live it - knowledge isn't just a sterile, burdening thing, but a building block to extend our lives. Realizing that our first impressions were mistaken, wrong or incomplete isn't a shameful or bad thing, but instead a very good thing: it allows us to later on understand those who find that same path correct. So, discard it and deny it when it no longer suit us? No, that would be like denying your path, your choices, your roots. Those opinions, now different from your current ones, lead you to these, and if you are proud of you current opinion, why should you be ashamed of the path that lead you to them?

My reply would have been simple: "why would I deny or hide any part of my thinking? We all have to come from somewhere, otherwise we are sterile, stagnating and dead".

To finish , I'll live with the words of Kierkegaard: "It doesn't matter what you believe in, as long as you are sincere". It's ok to change your mind, as long as you are sincere about it.

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