To say that Ronald Reagan was a political conservative would be like saying that Babe Ruth was a decent home run hitter. But it wasn’t always so. Ronald Reagan was, at one time, a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat. He made speeches for Harry Truman during the 1948 presidential campaign. He even led a staunchly liberal organization called, “Hollywood for Truman.” But by 1964, his political views had morphed into a bold brand of conservatism that eventually became known as “Reaganomics.”
The question is, what caused the change? How did he happen to make the long political journey from the left to the right? According to those who knew him, including his children, Maureen and Michael, he did it by thinking.*
There are many reasons why people make changes. For some, change is a sort of surrender, made with an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude. Other people change in an effort to gain something they earnestly desire, such as acceptance, popularity, a competitive advantage, or even a mate. But the most noble changes we make are the ones that come as the result of thoughtful reflection.
When you change because you think it’s the right thing to do rather than because of what you stand to gain…when you change because you think it’s the right thing to do, even though you know there will be a cost attached, you have reached a level of maturity that the masses will never know.
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said, “How wonderful to be wise, to be able to analyze and interpret things.” (Ecclesiastes 8:1) Ironically, he also made his fair share of bonehead maneuvers, which only serves as a reminder that not all thinking produces good results. Still, give me a thinker over a non-thinker an day. I’ll happily take my chances with those who have chosen to engage that squishy glob of tissue that God has placed between their ears.
Starting today, remember that there is an answer that works well for almost every question life can throw at you: “Let me think about it.”
For further reflection read Proverbs 1:5-7, 3:21-26.
*Peter Robinson, How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life (New York: Harper Collins, 2003), 118