A Man of Value, a Man Not of Conviction

An exploration of why I lack conviction
Thursday, October 13, 2005

I believe myself to be a man of values and principles. I like to think that I am upstanding and would always “do the right thing.” At the same time, I recognize that I am not so much a man of conviction. The way I see it, conviction is the constant application of beliefs over time, and while I do have beliefs, I often find that averting conflict comes before upholding my beliefs. I’m not referring to major questions of ethics, but instead I’m talking about the more banal, like deciding not to eat red meat.

I used to not eat red meat; actually, I didn’t eat anything that had four legs (cow, pig, lamb, etc). It was mainly for health reasons that I just stuck to chicken, turkey, and fish. In group dining situations, the issue of what to order for the group comes up, and I rarely would mention that I wouldn’t eat the pot stickers because they had pork in them. Had I really cared about staying away from cow, I would have always spoken up to make sure at the very least I had another dining option. It is not a big deal in the end, but it displays a pattern. What I’ve concluded is that I lack conviction mainly because I lack passion. Or more specifically, I lack long-lived passion.

It is not totally unheard of for passion to be fleeting, but for things that people really care about, that passion typically lasts. I have been passionate about many things, but there is often something else that just as easily takes its passion spotlight away. What I’m realizing is that I get excited about things (the first step of becoming passionate) and then quickly that excitement just flows away, taking any chance of developing into a passion with it. So, I pose a question: can one develop a penchant for passion and thus maybe lead a life of conviction?