Do you have an opinion? I’m sure you have a bunch of them. You have perspective on the weather, your job, your family, your country, your president, your friend Dave, Friday night’s ball game or how this blog is reading so far. For us humans it’s a natural instinct. Animals have opinions too. A lion will fight another because he believes he has authority over a pride of lions. A woodpecker will drum a tree to let others know that the surrounding area is their territory. The big difference between us and the animals is that we have the ability to think outside of our own sphere, have compassion and understanding. Most animals aren’t capable of this. As it turns out we humans more than often will end up acting like animals, and worse. We must be diligent in fighting those animal tendencies within ourselves. That fiery anger, frustration and resentment towards someone can all start with an opinion.
So what is an opinion? It’s a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. In other words, claiming bike lanes are one of the best infrastructure investments for a city or that people in Brazil live the best life aren’t necessarily fact, but a point of view. Just like this post, or any other published work, they’re opinions. Biased in some form or another. Some more than others.
How is an option shaped?
- Facts. We tend to base our opinions on facts that are known to us. Lack of information or too much information can be a significant contributor to our perspective on a matter. Because an orange is loaded with vitamin C, Jon claims its the best remedy for a cold, while his friend Lawrence might claim it’s garlic because it stimulates the immune system.
- Experience. As we go through life we are continually learn and experience new things. We experience good and bad times that shape our perspective and opinions, and who we are. Jack might think that war is a justified means to end tyranny in a country where Maria having grown up in Serbia and seeing the affects it has would prefer other means.
- People. Influences from our family, friends, people we work with and the actions of people in our cities shape who we are and what our belief systems are.
- Geography. Where you grow up and where you live shape your opinion and who you are. If you grew up in the Southern US states there’s a significant chance you’ll support the Republican Party and what it values. If you grew up in New York you’re likely to support the Democrats.
- Religion. Our fundamental belief systems shape what we value. Traditionally Christianity has made the value of human life central, where atheists and agnostics have valued the environment and life cycles.
- Core values. Over time we create values that we hold at the core of our lives. Civil rights, the right for woman choose, the love of meat and so on. These will shape our opinions and what we tend to stand for and defend.
- Others Factors. There are other contributing factors like social class, age and gender. These all play a part on our perspective and the world.
Is it your responsibility to change others? In most cases, it’s not your job. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share your opinion and concern, and find constructive ways to discuss your differences, but if there is a chance a debate will cause hurt to anyone involved it’s not worth it. What they probably need most is love, acceptance and respect from you.
We’re not animals. We need not fight over our differences. Very little good ever comes out of attacking people and their opinion. When we viciously attack an opinion of someone else we more than often fail to prove our point, we can set them further into belief and we create separation between us. There’s more strength in a well thought out argument of our own, and appreciation and respect for theirs.
Just love. To simply love others is the key. Appreciate them for who they are, and what they stand for. It doesn’t mean you accept their opinion, but you need to accept them without any hesitation. What the world needs now is love, not more separation and judgement. There are too many people suffering in this world, being abused and taken advantage for you to not let others be, and just go on with things. So what did we learn? What you say will not always change the opinion of others. You’re even less likely to succeed if you base your argument on frustration, anger and haste. Doing it this way will create further divide and distance between you. So the next time someone shares their opinion with you or posts on social media and you disagree, step back, seek understanding, if necessary build a constructive, well thought out argument, and respect their opinion.