simply It’s been said that the only individuals who are open to change are babies with wet diapers. I believe this. And, I believe that I can no more be frustrated with someone not seeing my view politically than I can with a crying baby with a soiled undergarment. I know it sounds perhaps belittling to approach the dynamic this way but the bottom line is that we all need conversion on something. And I think the biggest litmus test for your need for that conversion is just how black and white you see your world.
I’ve been there. Even when evidence is compelling against the either or mentality, just look at the many contradictions to this in nature, I was dogmatically positioned to accept zero gray matter. Kind of interesting when you put it that way, isn’t it? The very organ of the body that allows are reasoning is exactly that, gray. Yet many of us, in our infantile perception, assume that everything is black and white, either/or, Us against Them.
For someone who craves certainty, and we all do to some extent, this is a seductive approach to defining boundaries. If this line is bold enough in the sand then I can have comfort knowing it’s there, we think. What we’ve forgotten here is that the line is in the sand. It’s sand. Sand shifts. This isn’t cement we’re talking about and even if it was it’s prone to crumbling over time. The allure of easy answers and sound-bite mentality is pervasive and far from immune to one political party, although we’d like to consider one being superior, and generally it’s the one to which you claim membership.
In a recent Facebook post the topic of music was discussed. Some, and I’m painfully well aware of this, think anything new is bad. The classics are the only real music, some think. But where is that classic era? Is it the baroque period or the bebop jazz? Is it the funk of the 70s or the New Wave of the 80s? When we boil these arguments down, any argument pitting one philosophy against another, we’ll easily find there is nothing of any real substance here. It’s all a matter of perception and often times, more banally, simply appetites and tastes. But there is very little depth to these pigeonholed perspectives. Tell me that the music you love is emotive, transcendent and connective and I’ll agree with you. The beauty there is that music could have been written in early 20th century as easily as the 21st.
We need to take a similar approach on our political philosophies. Can we truly identify our criteria? My guess is for many the answer is no. What do you truly value? Can you at least answer this? I would challenge you to begin there. Do you really value freedom, or is it security? Do you put your family first or is it your flag? I think that when you begin to ask yourself these kinds of questions you may find that your politics really don’t align with your real values. Now what do you do?
This has been my journey over the past few decades. I know I’m not fully there on a lot of issues and pray I will still evolve more on a lot of questions. But I have, at least, boiled my values down to three simple criteria.. This is now my litmus test for all I do and think. Is this upholding Human Dignity? Is this truly Socially Responsible? And, does this ultimately contribute to the Common Good?
These are the simple question I apply and overlay to any situation. And what’s amazing by doing this the dividing line we generally are willing to fight for will often dissolve. That’s scary for some. I realize that. But just as the wet diaper needs to be changed, and the baby only knows discomfort rather than a solution, we too might just need a little change, too.