The word heretic is a great demonstration of how the original meaning of a word becomes burdened or co-opted by organizations that will bend a word to suit their objectives.
Heretics were burned at the stake. Sometimes that was the kindest thing that happened to them. We’ve discovered being a heretic has been really misunderstood.
The root meaning of the word heretic as a noun is defined in the online etymological dictionary as “able to choose”.
Sometimes we have to become heretics in our own lives to ‘choose’ away from a history, a place or people. People will want us to walk in lockstep with them even though we know it will cost us the integrity of our hearts.
Is it time for you to be a heretic and choose a way of living with a new mindset that may separate you from those you’ve been marching with?
Are you walking to the beat of your own drum?
Susan and David
Great post, reminding us of the original meaning of the word. These days, heretics are considered crazy people. A “heretical” perspective is to be scorned and ridiculed as impossibly wrong. Of course, it was once heretical to question the flat earth theory.
Humanity never advances without the leadership of heretical thinkers who are not only able to imagine the “impossible” but have the courage and stamina to withstand attacks from the mediocre who want nothing more than a continuance of their existence with as little disrupting novelty as possible, lest it wake them from their delusional slumbers into the rigorous challenges and thrilling opportunities of real life.
Boy, do I relate to this one! Heretic all my life since it fell apart on me at a young age. I was forced to question everything up to and including ethical standards and what kind of person I wanted to be.
We are taught to resent bad breaks but again, like everything else we were taught, it’s upside down. Tough experiences cause us to grow, learn, go deep inside ourselves to discover everything there is. Having taken a deeply spiritual path as a result of a tough life, I accept and embrace discovery. I really enjoy where I am and am so grateful that millions of folks are finally joining me.
It gets a little rough when your middle-aged kids call you a nut case but hey, they’re just kids!
Interesting post! Specially for women, being a heretic is life-giving: In the boomer generation, we were inculcated into being subservient, a deadening choice for many women. I discovered that nothing alive can emerge from following anyone’s path but one’s own – even if that path looks to the world like the “right one” (in my family, herbal tea was seen as “weird”) and the one chosen, as crazy. It takes guts to make a different choice. It can mean separating from people you love. Many people simply don’t have the capacity to go against caring but critical family or friends who are invested in the norm. Discovering this has gradually made me far more accepting and compassionate towards those who may need to be heretical but can’t muster it.
I should also have said that I’ve learned that choices have timelines. Some people move more slowly than others and often this is much the wiser path. I’ve made choices too quickly in my past, for everyone’s good – thinking it was like ripping off a bandaid. Um…no. I’ve worked through two years or more with clients as they considered all possible options. Timelines are our unique expression too.