Volume XX, Number 52 (Issue 1004) December 26, 2022
The Right to Change One’s Mind
Like many of you, we are doing some traveling to visit family during the holidays. In fact, Sandy and I just returned from a road trip to visit our middle daughter and her family in Florida. Whenever we are on the road for an hour or more, let alone four days coming and going as we were these past two weeks, we enjoy listening to podcasts. Our favorites these days are NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” along with “History that Doesn’t Suck” (“HTDS”) with Professor Greg Jackson. On this latest trip we listened to the recently remastered first sixteen episodes of HTDS. With its focus on American history delivered with an appropriate dose of humorous commentary, it is extremely entertaining. Thus, it makes the time fly while we learn about the details and contributing factors to key events not typically covered in most textbooks.
For instance, in session fifteen, which covers the Constitutional Convention of 1787, we heard about the machinations, speeches, negotiations, and compromises that led to the drafting and adoption of that remarkable document that is so central to our democratic form of government. The realities of that four-month convention are fascinating in every way. Yet the element that grabbed my attention more than any other was the statement the eighty-one-year-old Ben Franklin delivered at the close of the convention. When you read the excerpts from his remarks that I have included here, I believe you will understand why I was drawn to these words.
I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others.
I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to
have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does…”
Let me ask you to reread these two paragraphs I have chosen to include from among Dr. Franklin’s remarks since these thoughts so completely align with and encapsulate my own views on the importance of:
- having an open mind,
- being willing to change one’s mind when presented with additional facts and information, and,
- the wisdom of teams notwithstanding and possibly because of the personal biases and backgrounds the individuals involved may bring to the deliberations.
While this commentary may depart from my typical holiday missive, it is a top of mind subject for me, and since these are my Musings, I have elected to end 2022 and prepare for 2023 on this note. I hope you do not mind.
Wishing you and yours abundant happiness now and in the new year.
Soli Deo Gloria
“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone.” Titus 3:1-2
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Copyright 2022 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.