I take the Big Game seriously.
I know Stanford gets a lot of commentary (or perhaps not — perhaps it’s just us that like to think that we get that much attention) about how we’re so extra when it comes to the Big Game, but I think that’s just an example of how we take school spirit seriously. I appreciate the students who camp out in White Plaza days leading up to the game. I appreciate the fountains turning red. I appreciate our Band — I appreciate them more if they don’t walk on the field before the game is over (but they only did this once (I think?), so let us forgive them).
I’m often told that I don’t hold grudges. This could also mean that I’m inconsistent when it comes to how I view someone. In other words, my attitude towards people — for better or for worse — is flexible to change if necessary.
As a consequence of this, I’ve asked myself the following: Do you, Inyoung, take yourself seriously?
My answer is simple: no.
I’m a big fan of taking ideas seriously. I take the Big Game seriously because I take school spirit very seriously. I’m also a big fan of Stanford.
I’m not a fan of taking myself too seriously. I’m not a fan of taking anyone else in particular too seriously. I will take what you have to say and your ideas that you carry seriously. But, as far as ideas go, I will recognize that your ideas too, like mine, are simply yours — they are your opinion — and I will take it with a grain of salt. (Or perhaps more. Maybe I’ll sauté your opinion with salt.) I will take it into perspective but not compromise my own unless I choose to do so myself, as I take no one that seriously.
I have wondered recently if consistency is something I value. I used to think so. Now, not so much. Alas, indeed not so much as I am yet again being inconsistent.
Society, as I see it, seems to value consistency. When the New York Times makes a mistake on paper, it “regrets” to make that error. We are so hesitant to change policies because it is “inconsistent” with the constitution that was written several hundred years ago. We are reluctant to believe individuals if we believe they are “inconsistent” with whatever existent system (as we perceive it) is in place. We are, in my opinion, often hesitant to reconcile our differences in opinions because we value the maintenance of “consistency” in our own views.
Consistency, for the most part, seems to carry positive value in this world we are part of.
But my question to you is this:
Why is consistency so important? Why does it add to one’s credibility?
Why is revisiting a decision so bad?
Why is acknowledging your mistakes a flaw?
I’ve been grappling with this idea for a while, and to be honest, dear reader: I don’t have an answer. I’m just throwing the question out there because I think it’s worth thinking about. And personally speaking, I value questions over answers.
One potential answer I have come up with is the following: Perhaps, what we value as society is not necessarily consistency but commitment. I think people should behave consistently with their values. I value those who keep their word.
But my values, including my former value of consistency, changes overtime as I learn through added life experiences. With time, new knowledge and change in circumstances, I revisit certain choices I make. In history, we frequently reevaluate our decisions. And we learn from them. The things that we do learn, when put into practice, bring about change. Indeed, change is not easy. It is not quick. It often is uncomfortable for many. But positive change is what moves us forward.
Of course, all of this is (like most things in life) very nuanced.
I, again, am writing this piece with the intent of raising questions rather than suggesting answers.
I do believe, nonetheless, that the following helps:
- Avoid absolute statements. That way, although you may be inconsistent, at least you are not not keeping your word.
- Be transparent. People, for the most part, understand that we revisit decisions — as long as we, to our own mind, have a somewhat reasonable explanation for it.
To borrow Walt Whitman’s words:
“Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
I might read this piece later in perhaps 10 years, perhaps earlier, and revisit many of the points I made. Actually, I hope I do revisit many of the points I made — I would hate for myself to be consistently the same person for the next whatever number of years. I hope that I grow. In the case I do revisit my statement, I will politely ask The Daily to make edits based on what I “recognize” to have made an error of, not what I “regret.”
Hope you have a great Thanksgiving break. Let’s Beat Cal. Actually, we will Beat Cal. (I hope I don’t have to revisit this statement. For this, I seek consistency.)
Talk to you soon!
P.S. In my personal opinion our (Twain) banner was the best. I want to share it with everyone (at least to readers of this article) since it sadly won’t be used for Big Game.
Contact Inyoung Choi at ichoi ‘at’ stanford.edu