“When you are through changing, you are through.”
— Bruce Barton
There’s a stigma against changing our beliefs.
Listen to a politician. They’re “never wrong.” They have honest, pure and unchanging values and we vote for them.
Have someone accuse you of believing the wrong thing and you’ll often end up arguing meaninglessly. And if we do change our beliefs, we often have to have ‘new evidence’ to justify having it changed. Sometimes we say it’s divine inspiration. I think we just don’t like to change our minds.
Nonetheless, there are times when you finally conclude that your beliefs have changed.
Tonight, as I sat idling in my car on the on-ramp ready to head home from work, I saw one of the “sign-holders.” Those are the people who stand by the free way with a cardboard sign saying how much they need help.
The line down the on-ramp was long, so I had plenty of time to watch. It was cold, and he was bundled in a dirty, hooded parka and jeans. He stood with his sign hung limply in one hand to his side, not moving the entire time I waited, maybe 10 minutes.
As I approached, I rolled down my window. He turned to face me staring somewhat vacantly. He wasn’t staggering and he didn’t reek of alcohol so I knew he wasn’t drunk. Maybe there were drugs, I don’t know.
“Do you need supper?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he mumbled without breaking his gaze.
I reached in my pocket and pulled out a McDonald’s gift card which I carry with me. “That’ll buy you supper,” I said.
He took it with dirty fingers. The light turned and we looked at each other one more time in the fading sun. I think he might have smiled.
That’s when I knew my belief had changed.
I was told growing up that giving handouts just encouraged ‘them.’ Don’t go near the ‘sign-holders’ because they’re dirty, I was told. Just keep driving.
Standing on the side of a road cold and alone, with a shoddy sign, a few clothes, and a hand out stretched is no one’s dream. It’s where you go when you’re desperate. Why that man was there is beyond me. Maybe he’s an addict. Maybe he’s a convict. Maybe he’s unstable. Maybe it doesn’t matter when you’ve hit bottom. Maybe you just need someone to help you find your next meal.
Likewise, it doesn’t matter if you change your beliefs. It doesn’t mean we were necessarily wrong or foolish, it just means we are changed.
Others may disagree and that’s ok. I think that giving money and time to charities and food banks is wonderful but I also will give out food cards to people who ask for them. It’s my belief that it helps. It’s only my belief.
Changing our beliefs doesn’t mean we’re weak. It means we’re changing … for the better.
Gave $5 worth of food away, helped on a sparked.com challenge, and did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen so my wife didn’t have to.