Monday, January 08, 2007

Did you change your mind??

I've been giving some thought lately to what makes people change their mind.

What makes us hold firm to some convictions/ beliefs/ opinions/ preferences and allow others to be more tentative or malleable?

Whether it be religious conversion, relationship splits or a dramatic shift in political views, I'm always curious when someone I know makes a distinct turnaround in what they believe or how they behave.

As an educator I often wonder about the degree to which new information does or does not influence my students' world views.

Then, bringing it closer to home I ask myself what part of my own values, beliefs, ideas I insist on as CORE TRUTHS for my life and which are merely a product of what I've learned/experienced so far but open to possible shifts in the future? What do I want to hold on firmly to no matter what? What am I willing to keep more open about? How do I decide?

There is so much talk of "situational ethics", of right and wrong being relative. What do I believe is RIGHT or WRONG no matter what? Where do those beliefs come from? In what ways do those beliefs serve me and in what ways may they limit me?

When it comes to an individual's "personality", what aspects of how they experience and express themselves do I expect to remain constant and what parts are continually evolving?

When making plans or promises or commitments, how far do the circumstances have to shift before is feels acceptable to break them?

Yeah...these are the things I think of at night when my brain goes round and round...


Spoke said...

I was gonna comment on this, but changed my mind!

Marie said...

The first time I changed my mind on things that made up the foundation of my worldview was when I studied in Israel eight years ago. My initial motivation for going there was that of a Mormon Christian, excited about the Zionist movement and my perception that it was all God's Hand In History. However, our university was in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian section of the new city, and within just a couple of days I knew that it wasn't going to be the Jews that were the focus of my study -- it was going to be the Arabs/Muslims. They were friendly and strange and fiery all at once and I wanted to know why I was expected to believe that it was God's will that they be treated like second class citizens in a land they had occupied for centuries, just to fulfill the Jews' perceived birthright. And I came to the conclusion that it was not God's will. That just because something fulfilled (or seemed to fulfill) a prophecy, didn't mean that God necessarily approved of it or the means that produced it. It started as just a new perspective on the Arabs on the Jews, (which was plenty huge to me at the time and led to me studying Arabic and Arab/Muslim culture in subsequent years). But that change in my worldview opened the door to other more drastic changes in the last eight years -- distancing myself from the political views of my family and most of my community, taking up the study of the history of the Mormon church that I had previously been afraid to touch lest it rock my foundations. All these things were non-negotiable Truths in my life ten years ago, but slowly my views have been changed very dramatically and for the better, I think. I now am not nearly so afraid of the consequences of rethinking the "givens" in my life. Not fearless, to be sure, but much more open. I think it's a good thing.

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