Is Changing Your Beliefs Easy?
How Comfortable Are You Being Wrong?
Not really. I am just joking. Santa’s not even real. I love the idea of Santa, just like I love the idea of the tooth fairy. Of course, just like everyone, there comes a time as a child when we eventually realize Santa is our Mom. I loved the idea of the tooth fairy; money for your teeth. Great idea. Last week I had to pay a guy $1,000 to take my teeth! Where am I going with this? I’m just suggesting that we are taught ideas, mostly good ones, sometimes not, at differing times of our lives that eventually we dismiss for many different personal reasons.
Change as we grow and evolve is a good and positive thing. As we live our own lives, some of us take different directions. Maybe a math education course isn’t what you want to carry on with, and now you find your interest in photography and animation. Maybe your employment as a police officer isn’t your thing anymore, and now you wish to become a pilot. Maybe, even your religious faith isn’t what you thought it was, and so you wish to change to another faith, or maybe no faith. Would anybody have an issue with your choices? I hope not. First, it’s none of their business, and secondly, you would hope that friends and family would be supportive no matter what, right?
Adding to the above example, the math instructor may not teach the kind of math you enjoy or could use. Could you change and feel it appropriate to voice your concerns? Maybe your employment as a police officer conflicts with your views on sexism or racism or your comfort level with your safety concerns for you and your family. Could you change course and feel comfortable enough to share your concerns over the dangers of your job? Maybe your religious faith now conflicts with your more experienced views on life and people. Maybe your faith, at least in your mind and experience, isn’t what it purports to be. Would you feel empowered to change course and utilize your free speech however you wished? Maybe that one is not so easy when you have belonged to a very tight-knit group for most of your life. I would hope that anyone who may not understand your wish to be a photographer, a pilot, or to be seen as an atheist or humanist would feel comfortable enough in their own way of life not to be so concerned about yours.
I could say, just like the TV, there is an off switch if you don’t feel good about reading what other people's experiences are. However, that’s not my way. The whole point of writing is to, at the very least, give somebody somewhere something to think about. So here is my last tale to answer the question that bothers most people close to me.
Let's say you and your partner have been married for over 35 years. Now let’s say you have had suspicions for about 5 years that something was wrong and out of place, so to speak. Let’s say over the last 6 months, you decided enough was enough, and your partner's flings or behaviors were that last straw. And so, after a long relationship of 35 years, you and your partner are divorced. You would assume people around you would understand and still care, right? However, I am sure, like me, you have heard people say, “I don’t understand; they always looked so good together.” Or “How could she/he divorce they have been together for over 35 years?’ Or even, “If he/she knew it was love when they were first married, how come they changed?” In the same way, anyone changing educational goals, employment goals, or even their religious beliefs is often asked the same questions. Often they are not even questions but said in a negative tone, indicating that apparently, a person had committed a serious crime or the like.
To conclude, it is possible, nay even likely, that throughout a person's life, that which inspired them once no longer does. If inherent dangers within the previous choice concern an individual, one must understand their need to share such concerns. You may disagree or not like their point of view, but it doesn't make it less valid. Walking away from a belief system of over 35 years is no easy choice. There has to be an acceptance you’ve been wrong. No one wants to believe they have been wrong for a lifetime. The alternative, however, is hypocrisy. Some people can live with that, and others can not. Usually, the only people who do not enjoy reading about others' pains are those who are afraid they might be next. I am not enjoying this ‘divorce’; however, I enjoy thinking for myself in every part of my life, not just the ones I am supposed to.
© Stephen G. Arrowsmith 2021
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