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Friday, January 23, 2009

Conviction and Rigidity

What is conviction? A fixed or firm belief, as per dictionary. A person is with conviction if he has strong belief in himself and his views. A person gets convinced, specially if he is reasonably intelligent person, after evaluating various points of views about a position and selecting what he considers best argument. A man of conviction is steadfast in his views, clear about his standing, has structured and thought out thought process which led to conviction, and is not easy to sway because more often than not argument put forward is already considered and discarded as inferior. A man who has, in a way, all figured out. As I see it, conviction is a good thing.

What is rigidity? Inflexible, unyielding and firmly set views (dictionary). A person is rigid if he strongly believes a point of view about any topic. A rigid man is steadfast in his views, clear about his position, sticks to them despite opposite point of view and is not easy to sway. A man who has, in a way, made up his mind and is not open to investigation. As I see it, rigidity is a bad thing.

Only difference between man of conviction and man of rigidity is thought process leading to position taken. Unfortunately, that’s all inside the man, and to outsider, both may appear similar. And they often do. My observation has been that people are very afraid and averse to man of conviction, who they feel has figured everything out and who doesn’t need them or the world anymore. That people don’t like to be corrected even when they are wrong is already discussed on this blog earlier. Without patience to understand rationale leading to outward position, people are quick to label convinced man a rigid man, a tragedy from my point of view.

Two questions arise at this point: why are people afraid of man of conviction and what said man to do to not appear threatening and offending to people? It is possible that both my observations are wrong but let me go ahead and espouse certain hypothesises. In some way people seek solace in discomfort or dilemma of their fellow human beings and a person who is not as confused about life and its vagaries as they are is insulting sign of their own feebleness. A convinced person reminds them, perhaps, of their own fallibility and inadequacy? It is however irrelevant to delve deeper into why people do the same, for beside satisfaction of inquiry, this will not help us much in life. Only way, I see, a convinced person can appear non-threatening to others is to keep his convictions to himself and appear or pretend vulnerable to others. Can he do so, and if he does so, will benefits of social acceptance outweigh weight on his conscience?
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