The Paradox of Change

People change. In fact, the only thing that doesn’t change about people is the fact that they are always changing. It’s a paradox because as a person strives to be more consistent, they just end up developing and consequently changing their beliefs. Basically, we’re a human race of hypocrites.

From what I’ve observed, obtaining beliefs follow a particularly straightforward pattern.

1. Environment
2. Acquisition
3. Development
4. Exceptions
5. Reconsideration

First, the environment is simply the world that you happen to be walking around in. And it’s not like you have an awful lot of control over it either. It just kind of exists, although personally I think God is in direct control over your environment at all times. But again, you can just say it happened by random chance; that’s not really what this discussion is about. Floating in this environment is all kinds of beliefs about everything in the world, from abortion to religion to whether you should get the kind of tuna in oil or in water (Starkist tuna in water in the pouch for me).

Second, acquisition is the process of grasping hold of one of the beliefs hanging around in the environment. Or… you know… creating a new belief (I’m looking at you Jedi religion people). This is often guided by things in your environment. Some factors could be parents or friends or religion or my favorite: you were convinced by somebody in an internet debate! Oh… that never happens? Okay. Anyway, let’s for the sake of example acquire the belief that abortion is wrong. I know, it’s serious, but it’s an easy example.

Third, development is the process of putting this belief into practice! You have this shiny new belief and now you can label everything.

“That woman should have given that baby up for adoption. That kind of makes her a murderer.”

“Oh my gosh this YouTube video of this abortion is horrifying.”

Please note, I’m not mocking the belief that abortion is wrong. It’s exactly what I believe. I believe it’s wrong under any circumstance exceeept… do you see that word “except?” That puts my belief here at…

Fourth, exception is the process of finding things that don’t quite fit the beliefs. My exception to the “abortion is wrong” belief would be when the mother’s life is in severe danger or if the child has no chance of surviving birth. Sometimes your belief hovers here at exception, but sometimes it triggers the end of the belief’s lifespan.

Fifth, reconsideration is when you say:

“Gee, that belief doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Then you get tossed back into the environment to find another. And believe me, all of this can happen in the matter of days or hours. But sometimes beliefs can last a lifetime. There are beliefs of mine, such as my belief in God or my love for Nikki, that I will cling to as long as I’m alive.

As for the other ones, though, it’s just a free-for-all. Two years ago I scoffed at the idea of global warming. Now I’m a full-fledged environmentalist. Last year Nikki was weirded out by Doctor Who, now she’s a bigger fan than me. And I change my mind everyday on if aliens exist.

What I’m saying is that as much as people strive to be consistent, we’re constantly changing our minds to support new information. So don’t be so quick to judge someone for changing their mind on a belief. Instead, it might be much more effective to try to just be that new information that supports a belief. It’s not as direct as arguing, but it’s a lot more persuasive. It is, after all, how I got Nikki into Doctor Who.

[Photo Credit: Jeremy Ricketts, Unsplash]

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