That’s Right, You Can Be Wrong
I reserve the right to be wrong, and I think you should too.
I do many activities in my classroom that ask students to take sides, consider their beliefs and views, and ask themselves hard questions about human nature, faith, science, society, etc. Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to expect these young men and women to hold the exact same views they claim today ten years from now?
We are currently writing “This I Believe” essays, and we did an activity in which students agreed or disagreed with statements like life is fair, money can’t buy happiness, and the police are our friends. After they picked a side (literally since the left side of the room was agree and the right was disagree), they were asked to share personal experiences that shaped their stances.
My students heard the story of a peer who was depressed and went shopping but still felt sad afterwards, which was very convincing as to why the student would feel that money can’t buy happiness. They also heard a classmate share about how much joy a gift of money brought to a family who was struggling with finances, and the belief that money can buy happiness became valid.
Over the course of about 45 minutes, they were exposed again and again to the personal experiences of their classmates that led them to beliefs that didn’t all line up with each other. The world of belief went from clear cut divisions to blurry lines.
At different points in the year, I tell my students that it is okay to feel strongly about something in this moment based on their current perspectives, but I ask them to also be open to the idea of their views changing some day. If we are never refining our beliefs, it is likely we are not growing.
More Than a Soundbite
I have been disheartened many times in the past year to watch our media and culture tear individuals to shreds over decisions they made many years in the past. I get it. The decisions were wrong. However, are we unable to give any grace and allow people room for growth and change?
I desperately do not want people to look at some of my past actions or statements and decide that those moments are mirrored reflections of who I am in this moment. They are parts that have shaped me to where I stand today, but you had better believe that I do not want all I have ever done that is good to be discredited by a poor decision in my past. If I must be judged, please let it be by the fact that I am willing to admit my failings and try again.
Life is far too complex to simply grab soundbites and call them the full story.
One of my closest friends and I hold differing views on a hot topic issue. Every couple of years we seem to discuss it again, and wouldn’t you know the conversation and our views have become more nuanced and more refined over the years. Our conversation is ongoing, and soundbites of one piece of the dialogue may contradict soundbites from other times. And that is okay… and even, dare I say, healthy.
I am 100% Certain
There are many things I 100% believe in this moment, and I could argue my stance on them for hours. Just know, I reserve the right to be wrong. I might receive new information or experience something that contradicts my original premise, and if I have any sense I will be forced to reevaluate my positions. God forbid, I might just come to the conclusion that I was wrong and have to change my views.
I firmly believe we should be open to the idea that we might not be right. But, then again, I could be wrong.