But We've Always . . . .
Updated: Aug 15, 2020
George Washington. Thomas Jefferson. James Madison. James Monroe. Andrew Jackson. Martin Van Buren. William Henry Harrison. John Tyler. James K. Polk. Zachary Taylor. Andrew Johnson. Ulysses S. Grant. These twelve presidents of the Unites States all owned slaves, eight of them while serving in office. Their mindset at the time was likely, but we’ve always done it that way. Imagine how far a presidential candidate would get today if s/he proposed reinstating the system of slavery.
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting American women the right to vote was ratified on 18 August 1920. The first one hundred and forty-four years of American history saw men make all the political decisions. Common themes were that a woman's delicate constitution made her unfit for the evils of politics, that she was too occupied with domestic duties to ponder political debate, and that she was too stupid or weak to bear the responsibilities of voting. In, say 1820, most people (including many women) thought, but we’ve always done it that way.
The positive evolution of the way the human species thinks has progressed only when it has been realized that the way we’ve always done it is either dead wrong or could be improved upon. And because acting always follows thinking, Bob Dylan sang:
Gonna change my way of thinking
Make myself a different set of rules
Gonna put my good foot forward
And stop being influenced by fools
Of course, some ways of thinking are to be affirmed. But history has repeatedly proven that we always need to be open to one of the most difficult things to think or say: I might be wrong. Not seriously examining patterns of thinking and acting can all too easily perpetuate evils such as racism, gender bias, tribal bigotry, cultural superiority, sexuality intolerance, and the like.