Challenged

Have you ever noticed how ‘other people’ (not talking about you, necessarily) tend to agree with everything they read or hear that supports their thinking, but deem anything contrary as unreliable, inaccurate, or insignificant?

For example…

You may know someone with pretty strong opinions when it comes to politics. They are a staunch Democrat/Republican and no matter what the other side is for, they will be against, just because they are…a staunch Democrat/Republican. They are willing to ignore or even defend behaviors and attitudes and actions just because of a shared political affiliation.

And what about education? Public school proponents might become defensive when private school and public school test scores are compared. Private school advocates may downplay the importance of academic and extracurricular activities provided by public schools.

Project based learning supporters may minimize the importance of maturity in a project based environment, while supporters of  traditional education might minimize the importance of the real life skills acquired in project based learning.

And since we are on the topic of education, what about those teachers? Some get pretty attached to the curriculum they are teaching. So much so that when something new is proposed they find its every fault. Others look at new studies about how students learn best and ignore them, because, well, they have always taught in a certain way and it has always worked. (I’m a teacher. And an old one, at that. Therefore, I can say this.)

And you knew my list would not be complete if I didn’t mention diet. Paleo diet proponents may not be willing to acknowledge that our digestive systems have evolved since the days of the caveman. Vegans may ignore the evidence that their diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies.

Oh…and how about religion?

Yeah.

I’m not even going there.

The examples could go on and on and on and on.

You get the idea.

And now, to my point.

FullSizeRender

See this book? This book was the source of motivation for this post.

See the green grass? I live in Wisconsin. It’s January.

This was not a recent picture.

I’ve been wrestling with some of the ideas in this book for a long, long time.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I highly recommend reading this book. There’s a lot about it to love.

I loved learning about eating locally and seasonally.

I loved dreaming about living a simpler life.

And I really loved how the book was written.

But, this book also forced me to reexamine my beliefs.

In other words, it rocked my world in a not-so-wonderful way.

When I adopted a plant based diet 5 years ago, I did it for selfish reasons. I desperately wanted to be healthy. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted by the choices I was making regarding my health.

After stumbling upon a dietician’s blog, I was confronted by some uncomfortable assertions, which ignited my passion for learning all I could about nutrition. And somewhere along the way, I was presented with the notion of eliminating all animal products from my diet.

Which I did.

All was well and good for many years. (Over four of them, actually.) I was living in my happy little vegan world, doing my vegan thing, without a care in the world…

until that one day last summer, when my son told me I just had to read that book.

And so, I did.

It wasn’t a book promoting a vegan diet.

It was a book that forced me to look at my diet through a different lens.

It was a book that challenged my beliefs.

It was a book that forced me to examine my values.

But it was also the book that helped me solidify my beliefs and better understand my values.

The process was not easy. But it was necessary.

You see, the danger is when we no longer consider an opposing viewpoint or argument. This is when our learning stops and we become stagnant. We get stuck in life and stop evolving. Sometimes we get lost and no longer know what we even stand for. Or worse yet, we lose empathy for those who don’t share our beliefs.

So have I given up veganism? Truthfully, I thought long and hard about it. I questioned my choice. And then I gave myself permission. What would it feel like to eat anything I wanted.  It was the strangest feeling ever.

But the thing was, there wasn’t anything I felt like I was missing out on. Except maybe convenience.

Somewhere along my journey, my food choices stopped being about me. I discovered I had many ‘bigger than me’ reasons for being vegan. And I feel comfortable with and confident in who I am.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you.

Have you been confronted with information that challenged your beliefs? And if so, what did you do?

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7 Replies to “Challenged”

  1. Amen, sister! Great blog entry that raised many great points and was beautifully stated!!! 🙂

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  2. Amen, sister! Great blog entry that was beautifully stated and so spot-on!!! Refusing to consider someone else’s opinion/viewpoint is dividing our world in such a negative way, whether it be about politics, religion, etc. If we are not open-minded we will never be able to compromise with others or find a solution to the problems facing our world today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Chris! And I totally agree…we need to work together, not divide ourselves even further. I value your thoughts! Keep commenting.

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      1. Karen,
        I am so impressed with your writing and your thought provoking words. I feel you wrote your last blog about me as I am having knee surgery next week and may be unable to run anymore; lots of arthritis. What is my new label, what will define me; will I still be a runner? Makes you look at things quite a bit differently. Thank you for continuing to challenge our minds with your amazing words!! Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I so appreciate your feedback, Amy! And I am so sorry to hear about your knee. I understand your frustration. I would love to catch up with you some time! Take care, my friend!

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  3. Challenged – I’m running with the word and not exactly your topic. Just need to write………

    My present challenge is my relationship with my sister-in-law. I decided to face it, deal with it, be truthful, accept my part in its failure and move forward. Due to her anxiety on her part, she couldn’t attend the priory scheduled meeting and my brother had to take on her burdens and try to relay information. Apart from the fact that this meeting was very productive as he played a roll in some of this, I doubted its effectiveness with my sister-in-law. Alas, I shall move on and hope our next face to face encounter would be an improvement from the last.

    However, that was not to be the conclusion of the discussions. No longer feeling anxious, she called to talk, 4 days later. I was not as open to this conversation as I was to the first one because now I felt like what was put to bed; was now awakening in a new format. Indeed I was correct.
    Let it be said that a generally meek and whimpy woman had now found herself and mustered up the courage she needed 4 days prior. Although impressed at her bravery, I was unimpressed with her dialogue which was ruffled with a few lies here and there (trying to put family members against me). The conversation did not end as productive as the one with my brother. Instead, it brought forth more questions as to how can I ever be cordial when we are thrust together?

    Then came a Sunday service. It was as if the priest had x-rayed my mind and brought forth a discussion of challenges and where we take those. Of course, he was leading us to release them to Jesus and open our hearts. WHO CAN ACTUALLY DO THAT?
    His closing comment was this: Love everyone with the truth of our heart.
    Now I don’t know about you, but I feel that opens me up to not love my sister-in-law as she is not a truthful human. Or am I reading into it wrong?
    Well, time shall tell….

    Unlike a friend gone wrong of whom you can toss at the wayside, this is family. I shall take on the challenge each and every time I see her and put on a cloak of love, caring and kindness. My husband’s final thoughts to me were, “You lived in the south for 13 years, you must have learned something about faking congeniality.” And there be my challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And of all the people I know, you are most certainly up to the challenge! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Cathy. You certainly have given me a lot to think about.

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