We have learned to be weary of people who are inconsistent in their thoughts. When we sense an inconsistency in a person’s thoughts we question the motive for the change in thought. We quite often see this in politics. When someone is running for office the media will inevitably dredge up a “sound bite” from twenty years ago when the person said something that contradicts with what they are saying today and say “Ah ha, this person waffles on what they stand for, they are inconsistent in their thoughts and therefore will be an inconsistent leader!” In the United States we can see this happening today as the Supreme Court Justice nominee goes before the Senate for confirmation.
Is inconsistency in thought a bad thing? At first glance one might say yes, however as I dwell on this I soon discover that I would be wearier of someone who was consistent in their thoughts over a long period of time. If one is consistent in all thoughts does this not display a form of arrogance, does this not indicate that the person has not grown, does this not demonstrate that the person is not open to new ideas?
As I review my life thus far I know that my thoughts have changed many times, what I passionately believed to be true at 20 years of age was different from the truths I held close when I was 30 years of age. What is true for me today is often different from what was true when I was 30, heck even for what was true for me a year ago or yesterday is not necessarily true today. As Gandhi stated “… I have grown from truth to truth”.
“At times of writing I never think what I have said before. My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment. The result has been that I have grown from truth to truth” – Mahatma Gandhi
I find that I also grow from truth to truth. Truth for me is a moving target. The more I open myself up to possibilities the more I learn and discover and therefore the more my truths change. In fact over the last couple of years my truths are changing at a rapid rate. This is not to say that there is not consistency within some of what I consider today to be truths, however I know that there is difference between consistency and foolish consistency as Ralph Waldo Emerson points out in the following quote from his essay “Reliance”;
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes we may become shaken by our own inconsistency because we have been taught that consistency is a virtue not to be messed with. We may even place obstacles in the way of our enlightenment because we are hell bent on being consistent. We may be worried about what others will think if we are inconsistent. We may choose to be consistent rather than face the judgment and scrutiny of others. All of this simply serves to keep us stagnant and prevent us from learning the lessons we are here to learn and in doing so we sentence ourselves to repeat the same lessons over and over again.
We have all heard the statement “practice makes perfect”, this is not true, if we practice something incorrectly, then we will continue to be incorrect in what we do. The statement should be that “Perfect practice makes perfect”, that is if I practice something correctly then I will grow to do it correctly.
It is important for us to consider consistency in our thoughts and if we are holding onto consistency for consistencies sake and if we are to open ourselves up to all possibilities.
It is okay if you find that what is true for you today is not true for you tomorrow; this is what growth is all about.
Inconsistency in thought in many ways indicates consistency in growth.