This past weekend, I took my kids to Washington, DC, for the first time. We visited all the key landmarks. It had been a while since I was last in DC as a tourist. I was struck by one inscription inside the Jefferson Memorial. The author was Thomas Jefferson himself, written in 1816. Here it is:
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
I was surprised by this quote. It seemed like such a sharp contrast to the tone of the politics of the city, where changing one’s position is now akin to such derogatory terms as “flip-flopper” and “wishy-washy.” Why is it not actually a revered trait to change one’s mind when new information consistent with the changing of times and circumstances presents itself?
This week, I will take some inventory of some beliefs that I have held firm for some time and question myself. Everything from political views, social views, economic views, to deeply personal views will be on the table. Is it time for a change to some of them? I invite you to do the same.