Some words need healing.

Kicked around by the boots of history, they are left bruised and bleeding.

One of these is heretic.

The word comes originally from Greek hairetikos, ‘able to choose’ (from hairein ‘to take’ and haireomai ‘to choose’). Its noun form, heresy, can be traced back to Greek hairesisa taking or choosing for oneself, a choice, a means of taking; a deliberate plan, purpose; philosophical sect, school’. These words started to acquire their negative connotations when the early Christian writers used them to refer to individuals and groups who departed from ecclesiastical and theological orthodoxy. Their meanings took an even darker turn when the Catholic church began to kill certain brave souls who dared to think for themselves.

The heretic. The one who chooses. The one who dares to choose. The one who examines the options available to them and chooses for their own, based on their own reason and conviction, often on threat of excommunication, ostracism, marginalization, ridicule, harassment, torture, imprisonment, censure, and in far too many cases…death.

Heretics are much maligned and misunderstood, and yet they fulfill a vital function: challenging the reigning paradigms and power-bound structures. At the very least, their irritating effect provokes the guardians of dogma and orthodoxy to explicate, refine, and shore up their doctrines and practices. At the most, they instigate entire revolutions that break up ossified systems to allow new life-giving resources to rush in like a flood.

A heretic is the thorn in the side of history, keeping it from sleeping forever.

A heretic is the rock under the mat of religion, making it just uncomfortable enough to prevent complacency.

A heretic is the gnat in the eye of politics, scratching and grating tyrannical systems until someone sees the suffering of the people.

A heretic is the burr in the cloak of science, refusing to ignore anomalies that established theories cannot accommodate.

A heretic is the virus of the social mind, strengthening its immune system or killing it off.

Heresy is an antidote to conformity and a catalyst for diversity.

I, Terrill Brian Schrock, am a heretic.

I willingly place this mantle on my shoulders. I proudly take my place among the ranks of those who followed the golden thread of truth no matter how far afield it led.

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