There is something to be said of people who are willing to want to evolve. Oh, there’s that word again, very popular among liberal circles and often mocked by those on the right, often used as something of an insult. Imagine? This seems to be where we are today. Anyone interested in bettering themselves in some way beyond the monetary is often viewed with some sort of strange derision. Why? What is with out culture that anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of the world - or their sense of self - is often dismissed as “pretentious”?
Naturally, when one is willing to take this journey, a boat load of questions inevitably arise. We question everything we one believed in. We examine our own attitudes about the world, about people, about political matters, personal matters and just about anything else. Are we expected to remain as we are as young people for the rest of our lives? Some apparently believe so and some apparently do. They cling to their beliefs and are not willing to ever look beyond that or even examine the very things they propose to believe. There is no guarantee that one will look at things differently from before but the willingness to examine their belief systems seems to be off the table. It’s almost this stubborn unwillingness to do so, believing that any change of mind of heart about anything at all is considered “hypocritical.” We all have run into this over the course of our lives. “Consistency” is the word people like to use. If you once thought “this”, you must always think “this.” Age and experience be damned. If you make any proclamations about any issue, you are always expected to remain there, forever and ever, or else be mocked and criticized or deemed a “hypocrite.” This is no more apparent than in the political world where those who seek to run for office are always expected to hold on tight to their beliefs and attitudes until the day they die.
But there is a huge difference between evolution and being hypocritical. A hypocrite is, for example, an evangelical who rails against the immorality of homosexuality then is caught sleeping with another man. It is the man who rails against the rich, accusing them of being “out of touch” while living a lavish lifestyle of their own, never once mingling with those beneath his economic bracket. It is the man who rails against public corruption but is always on the take himself. Evolution is once holding a certain position on something, taking the time to really examine it and through experience and careful thought comes to a different conclusion based on the knowledge he/she obtains. Of course today, this is known as the “flip-flopper”, again, a term used to deride someone who may have had a change of perspective. (Of course, genuine change of perspective - not a politically expedient one in a cynical attempt to get votes.) There is a big difference between the two but in this culture today, the line between the two is gradually being erased. The definition between “hypocrite” and “evolution”, to some, are becoming one and the same. Ultimately it serves no other purpose other than to try to drag the one down for daring to look beyond his/her own self and to be willing to expand their perspective.
Personally speaking, I have come across this many times in my own life. During a recent conversation with someone I know, I had been slightly mocked for having a different perspective in my forties than I did when I was in my mid-twenties. What struck me as odd about the whole situation was the fact that I was expected to hold the same ideas as I did then. Life and experience meant nothing, apparently. I was being a “hypocrite.” According to this individual I was expected to hold on to the same perspective as a twenty three year old for the rest of my life. “You once said that...” Yes, I did say that - twenty years ago. “You once said that...” being a not so veiled attempt to label me a “hypocrite” and mock me for having a change of perspective and usually said by one who stubbornly clings to their ideas for fear of being labeled one themselves. It’s merely another way to try to shut one up, to stifle any sort of intellectual growth, mainly because they are either afraid or unwilling to grow themselves.
This political season you will hear much more of this sort of thing. A seventy-one year old man will be held to something he said and thought at thirty and a forty-seven year old man will be held to something he said or thought as a college student; and this sort of distraction will be used to paint the other as hypocritical or insincere. They will drag something out from each other’s remote past to use against them now and the whole circus will continue and the attitude about a willingness to look at a broader perspective will continued to be mocked in this culture. After all, remaining the same and thinking the same as you once did as a young man or woman will be the yardstick for all that one thinks now. Why not then judge one for what they said at five years old and call them a “hypocrite” for not thinking that way now? Absurd.
Evolving and broadening one’s perspective is essential. The key is to keep examining your attitudes about everything. Stagnation is never good for anyone and before there can be any real change in this culture and in this world as a whole, one has to examine themselves first. No one man is going to change anything. There is an old expression that I love but I never knew who said it: “The revolution begins in the bathroom mirror.” I strongly believe this. Until we are willing to re-examine our own attitudes and look at the world with a much broader perspective, nothing is going to change. And who knows? Maybe twenty years from now I will think differently.
But then that would make my a hypocrite, wouldn’t it?