The Danger of Dogma

A guy makes a statement and another guy calls him out for taking an opposing side a decade ago.  This is every political contest.  Poke holes.  Look for inconsistencies.  Attack changes in worldview and call it ‘flip-flopping’.  We’re told to place a premium on absolute consistency because if someone doesn’t restate the exact view they took a decade ago, they’re obviously lying, either now or then.  I’m assuming that if you have the intelligence of an average adult, you generally dismiss this as political theatre and soundbites for the press.  And yet, entire elections are won or lost based on who appears most inconsistent, not based on who has the best ideas.

You’d think we would put a premium on people who are best able to adapt their perspectives to the realities of their life experiences; or what you would call maturity.  But you’d be wrong.

You told me your favorite was Big Bird! FLIP-FLOPPER!!!!

We want people to be exactly as we expect them to be because it’s easier for us to file them in our universe of concerns.  Is he a good guy or is he a bad guy?  Is he an ally or is he a threat?  Will she always agree with me or does she have a mind of her own?  Where do I file this person?

As a 36 year old dad, my views on EVERYTHING has changed from before I became a dad.  And they sure as heck are different from when I was a brash, loudmouth twenty-something.  Again, maturity.  Worldviews on abortion, gay rights, religion, multiculturalism, pluralism, spiritualism, science, success, failures, liberalism, conservatism, economic theory, determinism – everything.  Everything shifts as you gain more inputs.  What was obvious based on two bits of data suddenly is not so obvious based on a data set of 200.  What were obvious spots to sit on either side of the fence, are not so obvious if you’ve had a chance to sit on both sides.  I find people who are ideologues are people who have never once looked through the eyes of anybody else other than their own.

Pity.  If only you could see what a nut you look like.

Evidence is for flip-floppers! I can’t hear you!

The ability to change our minds by choice is uniquely human.  The admission that you’ve changed your view because you’ve learned a little more about the other side is not a flaw. It is what makes you enlightened.  Can you imagine medical science stating with complete certainty, “I don’t care what evidence you show me.  I know the truth.  I will never change my mind!”  That was when people lived to forty and the infant mortality rate was 20%.

A politician who campaigns on political dogma is smart and likely a liar.  He understands that voters can’t handle choice so he gives them as few as possible.

A politician who amends her view because evidence proves her past views inaccurate is a true leader.  She doesn’t demand blind faith in her views, only evidence and rational feedback to improve.

So let me know when you meet one.  I’ll go knock on her doors for her.