The popular Nature vs. Nurture argument explains that we are a product of both our genetic traits and the environment in which we were raised. The biggest difference between the two developmental factors is that we can change our nurture while our nature remains the same. Despite the influx of information stored in our brains over time, we can question the authorities in our lives. We can decide how opinions other than our own influence us. We can listen to others, but we possess the power to reason and think for ourselves. Too often we become comfortable with habitual ways of reacting to events and experiences. Our attitudes and feelings become so second-hand, they are almost as impossible to break and escape as the situations that originally generated them. This is precisely why we must learn to make effective, lasting changes in our lives. To do this, we must open our minds and seek the truths in lessons and opinions offered to us; truths unclouded by perspectives other than our own. In order to uncover the truths in thoughts, ideals, and theories outside influences expose us to, we must find the root of that idea’s creation. We must peel away layers of differing perspectives and reveal the pure, unadulterated concept that can breed fresh wisdom and enlightenment. Consider early philosophical studies and religious thinking. Just as the sands of time and our own technological influences have radically changed the geography of the earth, theories and beliefs birthed centuries ago have changed and evolved to conform to society’s changing needs. The parables in the New Testament, for example, are lessons in living life wisely. Such legendary parables, however, deal with wisdom as it relates to a specific culture at a specific time. As cultures change over time, these legendary parables transform to better fit their present context. Church officials will translate biblical verses by using colorful analogies that help reverberate a modern understanding to today’s problems. The interpretation of the United States Constitution is another example. The founding fathers drafted the document to provide the framework for freedom and choice in the late 1700’s. To date, society has redefined and amended the Constitution countless times as our needs and reality changes.

Just like biblical parables and old legal creeds, the belief systems that form the framework of our childhood may not take us smoothly into our adulthood. Where we always hope that changes made in law and society are positive and for the betterment of humankind, changes made in the interest of money and power often can be negative. In much the same way, we must always be wary of how outside influences affect the growth and development of our belief systems over time. It is often wise to step back and reevaluate such influences; to strip down the layers of varnish that years and years of living and learning has spread in order to find the original meaning of legendary parables, of legal systems, and of our own thought processes. If we don’t revisit that single closet containing the relics of time past and discard the things that have colored and decayed beyond recognition, we will be weighed down by the archaic and unnecessary; by old memories, ideas, and opinions we no longer value, even though we adopted them as our own long ago.

Be mindful of this….

John C. Bader

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