Changing the Mind

The last couple years has been a period of great change in my life. I’ve changed careers, I’ve changed locations, I have changed my living conditions, and more than anything else I have changed my mind. It might not sound like such a big deal but change is never easy and experiencing change to the degree that I have always has drastic consequences. You can lose friendships, family, jobs, trust, respect, and in some cases you can lose your life. 

Small changes are usually no big deal of course, but you start changing religious views, policial views, or morality and social views, you are bound to wind up chewed up and spit out by those who are your closest relationships. 

It’s always seemed a bit odd to me how people don’t want to learn as much as they want to be confirmed. We will seek out people who can make us feel better about ourselves even when we know inside a behavior or thought process is inconsistent, or even wrong and harmful to ourselves and others. 

Just think for a minute how we interact with people who are perceived as holding different views than ourselves.  When differences are perceived most will either become defensive-proclaiming their side; offensive-seeking desperately to prove how stupid the opposing view is; or they simply shut up till they can get around a group that agrees with themselves so they can proclaim how ridiculous the guy was with the opposing view. 

Rarely do we ever think of trying to understand the opposing view. The Bible tells us in the book of James, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Wow!!! Now there’s a concept. Yet, Christians are some of the worst people at applying the concept. We are so afraid of being wrong that we shut our ears and minds to others who may have something very valuable to teach us. Well not me. Not anymore.

  One of the best books I have ever read is “Being Wrong” by Kathryn Schulz. My favorite quote from the book is this: 

A whole lot of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything: about our political and intellectual convictions, our religious and moral beliefs, our assessment of other people, our memories, our grasp of facts. As absurd as it sounds when we stop to think about it, our steady state seems to be one of unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient.

The book addresses a very important question: Why are we so afraid of being wrong when being found wrong is the very thing that spurs us on to learning? Being wrong is not bad but denying the possibility of our own fallibility can be very bad. 

If there is one thing all of my education in life has taught me the most it’s how little I actually know. Whenever I hear the words, “I know” I either cringe or fight the urge to laugh out loud. That is not to say that I don’t know anything. I do think I know things, a lot of things, but I have been proven wrong far too many times to think even for a moment that there is zero probrobabity of being wrong. What people fear, I have begun to embrace and as a result my eyes have been opened in so many ways. 

Now more than ever, I want understand opposing views. As a result, I have not only learned, I have changed. This doesn’t mean that I accept an opposing view, but I do understand it better which has lead to greater acceptance of those with whom I disagree.

So as a Christian, I have read books by some of the leading atheist. I’m not an atheist, but I do understand where they are coming from. Furthermore, I vehimately reject the stereotypical view held by many Christians that atheist are immoral and evil. 

I’ve been largely a fundamentalist Christian believing in the authority and infallibility of the Scriptures. So I have read several books from liberal theologians and those who think Jesus was nothing more than Jewish man who was killed for insurrection. These books rocked my world and vastly changed many of my previous assumptions. More than anything they opened my mind and even my heart. I may have more questions than I have answers, but I have learned which makes me wiser than I was before. 

The greatest change is the change in my political views. I like many, had basically given up on the political process in this country. Now it has become a matter in which I am most passionate. I’ve went through several books on American history, I have read books from each of the candidates that were running. I watched the debates and followed the issues like never before. For the first time in my life I even started sending money to a campaign. Bernie Sanders revived my hope, and even though he lost, he was heard by me and millions of others. He did what I thought could not be done. 

Ever since I could read I have been fed and accepted our history as the establishment wanted me to understand it. The more I read about my country’s history, the more my perspective has changed. I believe real change is on the horizon, but it will not be coming from President-elect Trump. It will come from the people, the common people, the people who will no longer accept what others are trying to feed them. People are starting to think for themselves. 

It used to annoy me when my I would be teaching my son something, and the first thing he would do is turn to the internet and start researching to see if what I was saying was true or not. Not that the internet is infallible, but the point is that he was not just going to accept what he was being fed. He wanted to get the facts. When we watch a movie based on a true story, my son can be found on his tablet just like me trying to learn about the REAL story. We recognize that rarely is the movie a true representation of what really happened. We want to know what really happened. Most people will never know what really happened because they are unwilling to seek out other sources that have so much more reliable information. 

The news isn’t much better than the fictional movie that is supposedly based on a true story. IT CAN’T BE TRUSTED. The news will give you what they want you to believe. If you want to know the facts, you are going to have to do some research yourselves. Our world has changed so much and even though there is a problem of information overload, now more than ever, it is possible for us to hear the facts from people who are outside of the main stream. And I believe that it is there that we will find the answers. 

Change is hard but very necessary. It also takes time. The conclusions that I have formed now did not happen right away. Even after I get the facts, I need time to verify, discuss, and throw it around in my mind. It used to really bother me when my children or my wife wouldn’t accept something I said, but when somebody else would come along saying the same thing, they’d accept it from them. Perhaps, they just needed time and confirmation before they could accept what I was saying. It’s all part of the learning process.   

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About Ken Sayers

I'm currently employed by a children's home where my wife and I care for a cottage of girls who have been displaced from their families. I'm a middle age man with two grown children of my own and one grandchild. I have worked as a United States Marine, a youth minister, a preacher, a childcare worker, and a truck driver. My hobbies include photography, horses, playing guitar, writing, and fitness.
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