Someone asked me the other day to provide discourse about my own political ideology. For most people, at least those who follow politics, the answer is pretty simple. Democrat or Republican. Conservative or Liberal. Those simple designations wrap matters up, allowing life to go on, and the safe belonging in a electoral family to generate warmth. It’s OK, because I’m with the good guys, the affiliation assures.
But life is a tad more complicated. When you sit down and begin hashing things out, the talking points prototypically spewed by earnest partisans sound rather hypocritical and contradictory, even if they seem backed by absolute belief and conviction. I know because they used to be my own words. During the healthcare debate of 2009-2010, I proudly wrote discussion posts for my business class advocating against “socialized healthcare,” citing whatever source available (funded by insurance companies) that would indicate such a model was disastrous. I seldom looked at anything on the other aside, assuming it was made up of lazy leftists who wanted to control people’s lives.
Why? Because the GOP said so, and conservative talk radio chimed in agreement. Furthermore, I had been exposed to enough Ayn Rand to know that the private sector entailed everything good – while the State was pure evil. Just like a young liberal might blindly support the Democrats going to war as long as they are Democrats, I was passionately committed to my personal version of the truth, because I wanted to know it was true.
It is crucial to understand how the youthful mind of the ideologue works. During those first years of development, I was forming a wall of confirmation around myself that would help preserve the comfortable pod of experience I assume life should be. It was only when I started looking at sources of every different persuasion, including those previously dismissed as the byproduct of “loser liberalism,” that my perspective changed. I began to understand how complex issues happen to be, and the wisdom in examining them not from the standpoint of kneejerk and glib outrage, but a holistic, inquisitive approach.
Ideally, age will naturally bring about this change, but it is no hard guarantee. With our hectic work schedules and social commitments, the lull of stagnant thinking can be rather sultry, even as the greying nears. Find a quick explanation and be done is the standard, much as before. Thus we see the importance of aging bound inseparably to learning. To free your mind, you must be always curious, and consistently humble, not just now, but throughout life.
Go on, and explore.