Be flexible, not ignorant.

Jack Freed used this quote recently in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words  – “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.”  (Unknown)

In football one often hears the phrase “bend but don’t break” to describe a defense strategy of being flexible, but no allowing the runner or pass receiver to get past the defense.

It seems these days that there is a lot less flexibility in people, especially where politics is concerned. People tend to get bent out of shape, rather than have the ability to bend a bit to see the other person’s point of view. The political side have become much too rigid in their stances on the issues. Compromise – the political equivalent of bending rather than breaking has become a lost art.

Jack used another quote today that seems appropriate to add here – “Nothing is worse than active ignorance.”  (Goethe)

Were Goethe alive today he might label the current political situation as being representative of active ignorance. The two sides are so rigid in their positions that they refuse to even try to see the other’s point of view, especially where the solutions to the problems are concerned. It’s not so much that they disagree upon the problems, just on the best approach to fixing them.

Goethe’s term “active ignorance” alludes to the inability (inflexibility) to learn and change, especially from one’s mistakes in life. Sometimes people can become so entrenched with their beliefs that not even overwhelming proof that those beliefs are wrong can change them. Global warming immediately comes to mind.

Sometimes people who have a change of heart and mind find that they are still trapped and categorized by memories of their past, at least by others. It’s not that they have not been flexible enough to learn from their mistakes and change; but, rather, that others refuse to see the change in them and relegate them to their past positions. I remember when George Wallace proclaimed that he had  realized the mistakes of his racist past and changed his mind and heart on topics of race. Almost no one believed him. As a four-time governor of Alabama and a four-time Presidential candidate, Wallace was the personification of racism and resistance in the South to integration. Then in 1982 he changed -“We thought [segregation] was in the best interests of all concerned. We were mistaken,” he told a black group in 1982. “The Old South is gone,” but “the New South is still opposed to government regulation of our lives.” So, ,he was still inflexible on some things.

More recently, Michael Bloomberg has been held up to scrutiny for his past actions as Mayor of New York; specifically his “stop and frisk” campaign against violence in the city that was primarily aimed at blacks and Latinos. Bloomberg has admitted that he was wrong and stated that he has learned from his mistakes. Goethe might have been proud, but his Democratic opponents need something negative to say about him and are not yet ready to move on. They remain bent out of shape.

So, how about you? Are there things that bend you out of shape? Are their prejudices that you just can’t let go of? Are there pre-conceived notions about people, places, or things that dictate how you live your life? Are you willing (or do you even try) to see the different points of view that you might encounter in a day or do you “hunker down” in the shelter of your closed beliefs. Are you flexible or rigid? Do you do the intelligent thing and seek knowledge of the situation before making a judgement or remain actively ignorant? If you at least think, before you act that is a starting point that Goethe might be able to appreciate.

 Be flexible, not ignorant. Have a thoughtful day.

One Response to Be flexible, not ignorant.

  1. John Freed says:

    Good one, Norm

    Those of us in business know that “the customer is always right!” …up to a point. Be it a real estate broker or a pastor, we need to be flexible….just like a contortionist, but even the contortionist can go just so far.

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