July 11, 2012

The Wisdom in Flip-Flopping.

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell

Recently, a Ron Paul fan and friend of mine insulted Obama in regards to his “evolution” on gay rights (last month, Obama came forward in clear but personal support of full and equal marriage rights for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters).

“Obama’s a flip-flopper,” my friend said. Just look at this video from a few years back of him saying he only supported Civil Unions.”

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali

Only in America, even after eight years of Dubya’s certainty, would “flip-flopping” be considered a political insult. Changing one’s mind is, or can be, a positive thing, of course. Evolving one’s views based on an ever-changing world just makes sense. Being open—listening—to other’s views and opinions and information and, you know, facts—is a virtue.

Especially for elected “representatives.” They are leaders, yes, but they are also representatives, and public servants.

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. – C. S. Lewis

So the question is not whether flip flopping is good or bad. It can be either. The question is, are our views evolving in the direction of openness, compassion, understanding, tolerance, and responsibility? Or are they evolving in the direction of party-line, stinginess, aggression, selfishness, and a dissembling sort of hypocrisy about one’s prior views?

Do we have a core set of values? We must. Should we evolve, around those values?

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” ~ John Maynard Keynes

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