A serious person changes his/her mind at least once in a life time. I do not mean he decides to go to Yale, not Harvard, or wear argyle with denim. I mean a Communist becomes a bare bones Socialist or a Reagan Democrat becomes a Reagan Republican. Real transition, a serious change in heart and mind takes place, and the future of the individual is forever changed.
Why do people change? To ask this question presupposes people do change. R.E. Lee is offered a chance to run all US Army Military operations by his new president, Abraham Lincoln. Instead, he leaves his career in the US Military to become a rebel. He could have been executed for treason. New evidence indicates he very nearly was brought up on charges after the American Civil War. Lee changed and notably said, “True patriotism sometimes demands a complete change in direction.”
Lee, a man of his times, loved Virginia and State’s Rights more than he loved America and its central government. Union did not matter as much to Lee as the Old Commonwealth. My point, once taken, is that good people, really good people, do change, and in ways that make their previous life seem malleable, if not hypocritical. Change makes people nervous, even if it is for the better, for it suggests a prior error.
And I use the word change to describe this evolutionary process instead of the word alter. I do so because I want to make it plain the change I am talking about is inner and upper; in the heart and up around the head. Alteration might mean circumstances have changed and so altered the way we wear our pants. This is not the same thing as deep, transitional change.
That said, change can come when things familiar suddenly or slowly become things distant. I am about to turn 60 years of age. A decade ago, as I considered my fifties, I was a determined part of two groups, whose initials would be familiar to most of my long-time readers. I was not only determined to go in their direction but also had earned a right to be heard in those circles. A scant ten years later and the two groups actually no longer exist. Both groups still function in some lesser forms but they no longer occupy a place of prominence even among their old adherents.
Both groups changed the public perception about themselves. They took their comfortable old familiarity and exchanged it for a kind of distance, paternal and aloof, that altered perception about them. They gave people good reasons to change. In Biblical terms, we would say the people who tried to be with these failed groups were like seed sewn on thin soil, able to take root but soon to wither. Change was inevitable and forced. Some held out, mostly the job seekers and party men but serious people turned from them and they ceased to function normally.
And the change was damaging, daunting and damning. Great was the suffering and great is it still. Some sources of great comfort, near to us all, moved away. We thought they had just rounded the bend but, instead, they sank from sight
Real change, the kind undertaken by serious persons, is a process. Saul of Tarsus had a dramatic encounter on the Damascus Road but his conversion came later. In fact, the Biblical record has no response from Saul at all while he lies on the road. His conversion is entrusted to a scholarly love-giver. The scales fall from his eyes later, after some time in the process. His doctrine evolves over years of solitary study based on his new found faith but grounded in his old doctrine. Saul becomes Paul in the process, not by falling off the precipice.
So, real change is compelled by rationality. I use the word rationality instead of logic, because logic can be skewed beyond repair. Logical thought may be fully satisfied by a mad man with insane standards and propositions. He satisfies logic with the even distribution of his propositions but the end is irrational, fatally flawed. Hitler hated Jews and begat the Final Solution on the matter of Jewry in Europe. The result was the Holocaust, which fulfilled all the requirements of logic but was totally irrational, flawed in its presuppositional propositions.
Rationality is not as logically satisfying. Nor does it try to be. Rationality is of the head but involves the heart/soul complex as well. Real change comes when we opt for complexity.
And now I am out of time for writing this morning. Duty calls. I will finish this later, I hope.