Honestly, I impressed myself just a couple of days ago when I said, “ I don’t need my opinions re-enforced, I need them to be challenged.” I patted myself on the back and felt very “woke.”
So much goes into developing those opinions, our upbringing, our life circumstances, our friends and associates, and the image of ourselves that we want to project to others. It’s complicated.
I have a few self- examination questions about our opinions. Remember, I write for myself more than anyone else, so I can think through these things myself.
Are our opinions really ours?
Holding on to what we were taught by our parents and others is normal up until adolescence.
Then, it’s one big testing period to see if we are going to hold on to those ideas or not. Usually, we jettison some and hold on to others. We eventually change some things until we can say, “Okay, this is me, not my parents, not my teachers, not my friends.” I am an adult now. It’s an important part of growing up.
Did we jump on a bandwagon?
There are a lot of pre-packaged values systems available. Conservative, liberal, progressive, evangelical, and many others. They are all brand names that are in the business of packaging a set of values. Hitch your wagon to their horse and you’re good to go, you will never have to think about these things again. Of course, they are all power bases trying to increase their influence. They want you to wave their flag, tout their virtues, give them money, and vilify the alternatives. That’s how the game is played.
Honestly, this is just plain lazy because it avoids us doing our own work to determine what we believe. It’s a kind of adolescence all over again, where we rely on others to tell us what to think.
What is the likelihood that one side comes up with all of the good ideas and that everything coming from the other side is stupid and dangerous?
As our country has become more polarized and tribalized, the “sides” have become more extreme and more unwilling to listen to other perspectives. Our nation with our two-party system, has seen both parties become more and more “put there” and completely unwilling to listen to others. Hence, our paralysis, as congress accomplishes nothing and our nation keeps falling behind in a myriad of ways.
Are our opinions true?
When switching cable news channels is switching realities, when everything is spin, when people pass off opinions as fact; it’s really tough to try to discern what is real. When we are happy with our values, our identity, when we only get our news from one source or one perspective, when we only hang around people like us, it’s really tough.
When we never consider new ideas, we will never really know if what we are holding onto is true. We never get to know “them”, whoever our “them” is, they will continue to be a stereo typical monolithic group, rather than real people who deserve to be heard.
Yep, it’s hard. We might hear some things that make us mad. We might hear some things that challenge us. We will get new information. We might even become more compassionate about some people we didn’t used to care about.
It something is true it will be able to withstand any sort of questioning. Our values and beliefs need to tested.
I have always felt as we get older what we believe down deep in our heart, will probably become a shorter list, but we will hold on to those things more than ever.