‘A leopard never changes its spots’ is a false and limiting philosophy. Maxims like these constrain us to old ways and attitudes. People fail to realise their (and others’) capacity to change, beyond their maturing physical appearance. We see this playing out in the media, particularly in politics, when a person’s immaturity is rolled out decades later, implying they have not changed. Yes, they are the same person, but many of their values will have altered significantly. We continue to be presented with opportunities to see the world differently and choose whether or not to be influenced by them.
I favour a life image of a clay pot being moulded by a master potter. The clay is the same, but is in a process of refinement. Likewise, our core values tend to remain, but everything else is capable of change as learning and life experience increase. As we age, we acquire more ability to weigh perspectives from the vast array of influences accumulated over time. References to older people being ‘set in their ways’ are sweeping generalisations which undermine mature wisdom. Consider those doing further study, those actively contributing in their workplace and community for longer and others continually extending their learning and skills via online sources.
Embrace the diversity life brings your way and add it to your experience bank. Listen and discuss with others, who see from different perspectives, to further enlarge your vision. Lane Cove Community Chaplaincy’s latest community activity, Intergen Cafe , seeks to link people inter-generationally, by exchanging wisdom and kindness weekly over coffee. Knowing someone from a different background frequently results in us seeing a whole group of people more compassionately. Let us continually welcome challenge, integrate new information and refine our thinking. Contact me for more information or to enlarge my understanding with your perspective.
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The articles here were written by Peter Andrews on behalf of the Chaplaincy Team from beginning 2023.