The Coast News Group
Community Commentary

The right to change their minds

I respect people who change their minds in light of new information.  My lifetime motto has been: “nothing is black and white.”

I am keenly aware that one can always learn more about a specific situation, which would lead one to take a different position on an issue.  I consider that ability a sign of strength, a sign of intelligence and a sign of wisdom.

Therefore I am baffled that some people are expending so much energy commenting on ways in which our city council members have responded to new information.  Especially in light of the fact that this has been a trying year for many members of the Republican party.

Some refused to back Trump from the start; some backed him with hesitation, and some continue to back him with enthusiasm.

Some voted for him in the primary and will no longer vote for him in the election — as is the situation with our current mayor.

Why do people change position?

Are there good reasons as well as bad reasons to change position on an issue? Can we ever really know why someone changes position? Is it important to change to better reflect your constituents’ desires? Is it a sign of strength or a sign of weakness?

I suggest that that there is no single answer.  While the word flip-flop has morphed into a verb of attack, as far as I’m concerned, the noun describes the footwear of choice in our city of Encinitas — a convenient sandal worn comfortably on our sandy beaches.

And so, I say to all of you running and currently serving — keep learning, keep educating yourself, keep talking with your constituents, stay curious, and keep making the best decisions you can with the information you have at the time.

And if you find your position changing on an issue based on new information, take solace from Emerson’s words in his essay Self Reliance:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today.  `Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Judy Berlfein is an Encinitas resident.