Now I have been wanting to write this piece for a while. The problem was I wasn’t too sure how to kick things off. I wanted to frame a view for your consideration and not sermonise, so I’m going to start with a recent personal experience.
This last weekend before Christmas I went to a friends 21st birthday party. It was an intimate kind of gathering, there were maybe a dozen of us at most. I had an excellent time and met a bunch of people that were social, likeable and also interesting, fun, dynamic.
As we all talked, shared, discussed and debated variously through the night, I learned more about my friend, his other friends and life in general. Then it hit me, I was privileged to be there at all. Being more than double the age of most people that were there, it felt huge that my friend thought I would belong among him and his other friends.
Even though there were some things that came up that weren’t all that familiar to me, I felt well at ease with these minds. It felt good to have some new things burst upon me and I did my best to return the favour.
So here’s what I’m throwing out there for all to consider: It doesn’t matter how much you think you know, there’s always room to open your mind to new things. Mix things up a bit, get outside of your usual groups and comfort zones.
Conventional wisdom serves a useful purpose, but surely it’s a starting point that helps us to avoid repeating past mistakes, provides valuable reference points to build on, etc? Shouldn’t it be the beginning only, not the end? Let us not also forget that most education is about accepting conventional wisdom. When were you last encouraged to challenge something?
Wisdom based on old knowledge, experiences, landscapes, realities, etc. taken without periodic re-evaluation can constrain and trap us. I am suggesting the consequence is blindly enforcing old world order or enshrining erroneous assumptions for years to come.
No matter how painful it may be, no matter how resistant people may be, it seems to me that conventional wisdom should be periodically dragged, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the daylight and re-examined, re-evaluated. If you’re not doing it the chances are someone else is. Take the best and leave the rest, evolve or die.
New eyes have things to contribute, they can sometimes see things where others do not – let’s learn to take real advantage of that. Let’s harness the questions, wonder and insights of new eyes to go further and do more. Just seems sensible, doesn’t it?
Questioning is not a challenge, it is not wrong, it is a learning opportunity for us all. Let not established order translate to suppression. If conventional wisdom is right, we have lost little. What if it turns out to be wrong, especially in today’s context, we could make great gains couldn’t we? Isn’t that worth something?
If you’re not doing it now, be prepared to entertain new and alternate thoughts, ideas and ways of looking at things. Socialise with people across all age groups, cultural backgrounds and different experiences, maybe they will reveal or inspire new ways to look at and examine the world around. Continually challenge yourself, we’ll all benefit!