Opinions have such a powerful influence upon our actions and thoughts towards any subject we can possibly conceive. What is amazing is how quickly a person can form an opinion without any real knowledge on the subject. This may not seem significant, however that quickly-formed opinion can alter the decisions of that individual which can have a long term affect. The more I’ve thought about opinions, the more I’ve wanted to resist these quickly-formed opinions, and try to have an open mind until more knowledge is gained concerning the subject.
People seem to inherently want to know “what is truth.” When events occur that we do not understand immediately, or that we did not foresee, we ask “of what is this an instance?” Such a question is harmless, and may even spark research into the events causality. However, humans generally are cognitive misers and seek the path of least resistance. We want answers, and we want them now. Increasingly we expect answers at the click of a button, or at the search of Google. If we don’t get it, we make it up on Wikipedia. When answers are not clear, it is my belief that we gravitate to something or anything that has even the prospect of explaining the event’s purpose or causality. It’s as if humans love to be right, hate to be wrong, but just absolutely cannot stand being without an opinion. It’s as if we must belong to a school of thought, regardless of what it is, to avoid the dismal abyss that is neutral-ground. This insistence to claim what is right, even if we are wrong does not exist only at the individual level. In fact, it very-well may be a socially constructed phenomenon. Regardless of its origin, opinion-setting is commonplace. An example of opinion setting is found in contemporary American politics. Candidates can be Red, or they can be Blue, but shame on you if you are Purple. A candidate (or any “true” party member for that matter) must be committed to an ideology. Never mind what that is, just make sure you are committed. Because America will NOT accept the middle-ground. It’s a classic, “you’re either with us, or against us.” This example is not perfect, because good does come from a competitive election process, and my beef with opinions is not at all in advocacy of unaffiliated ignorance. To the contrary, I believe that opinions SHOULD be made, but not the way that they most commonly are made, and not with the binding and unyielding insistence that most of us ascribe to our opinions.
Many factors determine the opinions that a person makes. Social situations such as family, religion, income level, neighborhood, and education have great impact on what or how an individual thinks. As a person is raised, the thoughts and opinions of the parents expressed in everyday life are thrown upon a child who is very impressionable. Children, being so trusting, are quick to adopt the ideals thoughts and opinions of their parents. Granted that not in every case this is true, but in many nurturing homes the apple does not fall far from the tree.
The real problem is that no opinions are right or wrong once you go outside of the scope of the person whose opinion it is. An opinion can be proven through experimentation or trial and error to become a fact, or truth. This of course depends on the type of opinion. In such cases, it might be better to classify them as hypotheses rather than opinions. In any case, at such a point, it ceases to be an opinion and become a fact.
People with their opinions are so quick to berate those with whom their opinions clash. I find that some people defend their own opinions (even those quickly-formed without any real research) to the point of ridiculing and mocking others. Why are some people prone to do that? Are they searching for self-validation in the destroying of other’s self-confidence? Perhaps they are trying to convince themselves of their surety by taking such an aggressive stance. In any case, it is rude and prevents the possible growth that can be gained by listening to other’s opinions in order to understand why they think or believe a certain way. In some cases a truly opened mind may be changed by such an action. I find myself very interested in understanding what people think and I feel that I have grown and understand people better in general. It’s very interesting and enlightening. It’s interesting to see the correlations in opinions on different subjects between people of different races or religions. It’s like a sociological experiment.
I suppose that my point in writing this is to show the value that I find in trying to understand people rather than to convince everyone that I am right about everything. Of course, that’s just my opinion…