They say that change is the one constant in the universe. I think life is all about change.
Most people are open to change of one kind or another, but don’t stop and give themselves the opportunity to do so. It’s so much easier, it seems, to do what we’ve always done and think how we’ve always thought.
I think it is absolutely crucial for everyone to take a moment every now and again and review what they believe or what truths they are clinging to and see if they are still true or still hold up. This is not a sign of uncertainty or doubt, but actually the path to great wisdom. “I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Sometimes we get ‘set in our ways’ or we have certain prejudices established in our thoughts and beliefs. Changing our mind, disagreeing with what we’ve thought before, becomes important in critical thinking when we have clung to out-moded or out-dated ideas, philosophies, laws, etc. which don’t stand up to the current situation.
Examples abound in history, from ancient views about slavery all the way to our current “controversies” over LGBT rights. Those who are on the right side of history are almost always those who can show compassion, understanding and tolerance for others’ beliefs, views, politics, religion, etc. Tolerance and compassion don’t have to equate to agreement. No one ever said we all had to agree or even that we should. But we should be able to get along.
For myself, I have fairly recently had a major upheaval in my life which caused me to re-evaluate almost every belief and accepted “truth” I had. I was involved in Scientology for decades and the philosophy had very strict beliefs about psychiatry, sex, spirituality and all sorts of things. Scientology claims to be a practice that “brings you total spiritual freedom.” I found it to be one of the most suffocating experiences I’ve ever had, full of closed minded people who were willfully ignorant of any other ideas beyond what Scientology’s founder offered.
Coming out of that, the world was a brand new place full of fresh and new ideas. And I realized that the world has always been that way. Every day, new ideas are being forwarded across all media channels, through word of mouth, etc. The quality of our individual lives and the whole of civilization depend entirely upon how we deal with those ideas. To ignore them or write them off just because they conflict with our old dyed-in-the-wool ideas could truly be folly.
Critical thinking enters in this way: just because someone puts out an idea doesn’t mean it’s true. We have to evaluate the idea, see if it’s logical and rational and then decide if it warrants further action on our part, or even our attention. If we find that it is rational, it is important that we make room in our thinking for the new ideas by clearing out some of the old false ones.
It can be hard for people to realize that they are being prejudicial or irrational. One has to work to remind oneself to look with fresh eyes on issues, people or subjects which one takes for granted. Every once in a while, stop and take stock of your beliefs, who you are following, what you are telling your kids. Review what your favorite politicians are actually saying now and what they are actually doing now, not what they said or did a few years ago. Maybe when you went to John Smith University, it really did offer the best education at the best price, but that doesn’t mean it will do that 20 years later for your kids. No matter what subject or field, take the time to look and see what the situation is in the present.
Stay sharp and stay current. And let’s agree that disagreeing with ourselves sometimes is not such a bad idea.