Opinion is a foundational element in the construction of one’s disposition, not merely a passion or predilection, but a representation of who someone believes they are. The world tints according the attitudes we embellish, by casting our eyes through different shades we get a better understanding of others and ourselves. Our beliefs outline our personality and intertwine with our sense of self, yet, is it unequivocally certain that our views belong to us?
Outlooks are shaped by what’s been exposed to someone and how they interact with it, however, how often do people simply mirror the words and actions of others without fully contemplating their own opinion? How often are people digging deeper to truly solidify their stance? In a society where attention span is dwindling by the like, it wouldn’t appear to be the case.
Maybe there is a difference, maybe there’s people who have opinions and others who actually own them.
Where Do Our Opinions Come From?
Upon birth we are stamped with titles such as a name, nationality, religion, and an effigy of the “I” begins to spawn. Through our care providers we become more cognizant of what’s expected of with these titles, our opinions slowly moulding to what they believe is propitious. Throughout our adolescent years we form some understanding of the person we are and the partialities we prefer, our teen years become more exploratory and by the time we are considered adults there’s a fairly good sense of our attitudes towards life.
Throughout our developmental years we are taught what is right and wrong, yet, majority of us are not taught that what is considered right or wrong is subjective, not unquestionable dogma. In the home we inherit certain traits from those surrounding us; if one grew up around violence, aggression may be seen as a way to settle disputes, and even be virtuous.
Religion offers a spectrum of culturally sanctioned beliefs dictating the lives of followers, what is considered holy for some (e.g. symbols, animals, songs) are used blasphemously by “ignorant” others.
What is not often taken into consideration as a young adult is how one’s view of the world will either cement or alter with forthcoming experiences. If one doesn’t leave their comfort zone and attain new experiences they’ll become increasingly inflexible, shut off from opportunities they remain in their bubble without the material to re-evaluate their beliefs.
Pushing through the barrier of comfort and into the world, one will come to realize that opinion may shape someone but it needn’t define them; instead of judging, it’s more beneficial to try observe the streams leading others to their views.
From Borrowing to Owning
Everything we say or think are concoctions of what has been previously seen and heard; whilst some receive, listen and interpret, others hear and accept without question. The difference between having and owning an opinion centralizes on one’s ability to critically think. If an individual does not question or apply further research to the provided material they, like a child, indubitably accept the voice of authority. The notion of having and owning an opinion is comparable with contemporary democracy; everyone has the right to vote, but, if they are not properly informed should they?
The internet has provided many benefits to society, however, it has also produced “educated idiots” who watch a video or two, regurgitate what’s being said and then try to take the credit. One of the most beneficial activities we can do for ourselves is to question the premise; with added inquires more knowledge can materialize. This doesn’t exclude those we admire, conversely, we must expose ourselves to great minds but question parts of their work, if not merely for a thought experiment.
Nietzsche’s notion of the Ubermensch (Superman) works in a similar fashion, taking admirable characteristics and engendering our best version. If we only gather information from a solitary source we runs the risk of becoming one-dimensional, leaving us prone to intellectual inadequacy.
Becoming cognizant of how others have brewed our views helps one become less indulgent of their own, in understanding the ambiguity between right and wrong we can learn to not be argumentative but responsive to the opposing ideologies. When people are willing to truly listen to others and learn to respectfully question the premise (not to impress but improve), one comes closer to organizing an amalgam of information into their own opinion.
Opinion is so deeply imbedded within humans it can sometimes be hard to differentiate ourselves from our views, yet, conceptualizing how others alter the formation of our interpretations can help diminish the superiority accompanying those who “know” they’re right. Oscar Wilde wrote “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, passions a quotation”. Ultimately who’s right or wrong is a matter of subjectivity, saliency lingers on our ability to learn from various sources, blend information in the mind and refine an opinion worthy of ownership.
Image source: Netflix – Fall From Grace