Change of mind does not mean lack of conviction


Justin Trudeau promised a review of the electoral system. If we adopt proportional representation or ranked ballot, we will have to radically change the way we think in politics. We will have to learn to compromise and co-operate when we work with people of different opinions. Adversarial style will create gridlocks. It is because there winning is the goal, not the pursuit of what really works. It creates a mind-set, “We got the majority; we have a platform. Don’t confuse me with facts.”

In adversarial style of politics, facts are often twisted or ignored just to oppose the other guy. I think that the dialogue engaged in a civilized manner is very important if you have to co-operate or compromise with other people. Major wars have often produced national coalitions, because the governments have to act quickly in war. But we are all different and disagreements are natural. So the trick is to find how we can work together and carry on without a fight or without being coerced into accepting what we don’t believe.

We need an open mind to listen to different points of view to see if we can live with something which we do not necessarily agree 100%. Arrogance can be not only bad for working relationship but can also be existentially deadly. There is a legend about a nobleman who lived in a small village near Geneva in Switzerland during the 19th Century. His hubris was infamous. He never listened to anyone. He always had his way. He died hit by a train as he lifted the barrier and entered a railroad crossing. For some people their ego is more important than life itself; a stupid but common attitude. “Willful Blindness” by Margaret Heffernan records many such historical disasters because people ignored reality.

It is rare to see anyone changes his/her ideologically and/or religiously based opinion. We don’t change our mind because it’s seen as a sign of weakness or lack of conviction, even betrayal. How can we be honest to admit our fallibility and listen to others? Willful blindness makes us ignore inconvenient truth like climate change or over-dependence on extraction of natural resources, and blame the other guy.

How can we change? Can a zebra change stripes? Maybe not. But snakes shed skins to grow and larvae become butterflies. They stop changing; they are dead.

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