Do I remain faithful to my own understanding of the truth, even if it means being the sole person to speak for it? Do I have the wisdom to discern when to stand aside, allowing a consensus to emerge?
Remaining true to one’s beliefs can be challenging. There are many views in the world, and we are all trying to defend our view. Through my experiences, I now understand that there needs to be a balance between supporting and developing my opinions.
The communities I grew up in all have one aspect in common. They all believe that to one question, there is only one correct answer. This correct answer is come up by the leaders, or it is from generalizing situation given by a social norm. Therefore, I often find myself without the option of expressing my ideas or the push to start thinking about the nature of the things. When I was given a chance to make some difference in a small community like my class, I tried my best but because my method was not good enough, the results were non-existent, and this discourages me. Another aspect was that I found that it was easier for me not to have an opinion and only follow what the majority or support what I was told was right. I was a timid kid, and I want to please everybody. This desire is the reason why I was willing to change my point of views so I can be accepted and not to be judged. I stop thinking about how I can improve the community and instead just follow whatever other people are saying. I continued with this attitude for several years. However, gradually, I got tired of pretending to be someone else.
While forming and starting to defend my understanding, I also begin shaping my identity. Therefore, I believe there is a deep connection between personal identity and belief. The changing point for me was not when my community change but when I start to change how I view thing. I used to resent my community for shutting me down every time I tried to be creative. To express this anger, I let go of my voice. Now, looking back, I see this as a silly decision. When I stop focusing my energy on anger and transferring it to look at the issue from the other side, I develop my own opinion and can sympathize with the other side. Now, I have the confidence to say that I do have my own opinion. I can stand firmly on my stance, though I am open up to hearing reasons from another side.
As I believe, belief is relative. Whether a belief is personal or social, it can be right now, but it might not be tomorrow. Also, there is a lot of views in a community. Therefore, I see the community is a place where I can practice my ideas and be challenged to develop a broader perspective. During this process, another Earlham’s principle that I also practice with is “Respect” as we can not have a productive and civilized conversation without respect. The diversity in view can help heighten creativity in finding solutions and develop the community intellectually, emotionally. Also, the variety can be the glue to hold the community together as once we see pass the difference, the bond is stronger.
While I do stand firmly on my ground, I still think that there are times when we should follow the consensus. I am a part of a community, so I do understand that agreement is needed in community decision making. Therefore, if a method different from mine but still able to achieve the same goal, I am willing to step aside and agree with the consensus. I might not be entirely pleased with it, but I understand that it is not bad. I will, however, not step aside if I believe a consensus is brought harm to a part of the community.
The change of heart is because I finally understand that I can not pretend to be someone I am not to please other for the rest of my life. I need to be myself while taking into consideration what others judgment has to offer for my development. There needs to be a balance that only myself can distinguish and adjust.