Gongol.com Archives: March 2024

Brian Gongol

March 9, 2024

News A change of mind could do you good

Abraham Lincoln, the most consequential Republican President of all time, was a Whig longer than he was a Republican. Winston Churchill, who led his country through World War II as leader of the Conservative Party, spent 20 years in the Liberal Party. Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the 20th Century GOP, was a long-time labor union president and made many self-deprecating jokes about his many years as a Democrat. ■ Wisdom sometimes consists of changing one's mind. New evidence, changed circumstances, and better reasoning can all lead us to better places than where we started. ■ But in the digital age, it's a lot easier to find people who want to put a spotlight on their unwavering consistency than those who are pleased to explain when and why their minds were changed. Social media in particular has driven the phrase "upon further reflection" almost completely out of use, and that's a bad thing -- if we really value intellectual honesty. ■ It isn't always necessary to be the first to make a claim, or the boldest, or the loudest. The temptation to weigh in on every "trending" issue -- or to demand that others do the same or else be accuse of complicity -- eviscerates the ground for people to give matters an oft-needed second thought. ■ It's only useful to admit to a change of mind, though, if the audience is itself intellectually honest enough to appraise the authenticity of a change of heart. Sometimes people really change their minds. Sometimes they're only faking it. Skepticism is fair game. Cynicism, though, is not. ■ Cynicism says that everyone who ever identified with the "other" party is forever in the wrong. Cynicism says that the indiscreet utterances of youth are a permanent stain on character. Cynicism says that 80% agreement is outweighed by 20% disagreement. ■ Minds should be changed from time to time, for reasons imposed by external forces and for inexplicable interior changes of heart. We ought to embrace them publicly and often, not because consistency doesn't also have its place (it surely does), but because a person so consistent that they could just as easily be chiseled in stone is a person whose mind really hasn't been engaged.

@briangongol on Twitter