Why Differing Opinions Matter

By Markus Myrvold

“New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.”
– John Locke

You are now a caveman.

For eighteen years, your tribe’s been eating raw pig and literally everyone’s been vomiting from acute trichinosis. Suddenly, you miraculously discover that fire cleanses meat from bacteria and don’t vomit horrifically anymore!

Huzzah!

But your elders are dubious of this concept; they’ve always thrown-up when eating pork.

It’s just the way it’s always been done. Unsurprisingly, your tribe’s reluctance to consume cooked pork leads to demise while your lineage continues.

In every sense of the word, that’s the most primitive parable I can create.

To put it less colourfully, those who refuse to consider opposing viewpoints would either die out or simply move forward, unaware as to why; neither option befits the most advanced race in the observable universe.

Before anything else, understand thinking as the first step to changing your mind.

Everytime anyone properly thinks, they’re rewiring their mind to favour a better solution and a quicker method. Kind of like picking up a date by alternating techniques whenever you’re rejected until you’ve perfected your pick-up method. By doing that, you’re fine-tuning the most efficient strategy to secure your goal.

This is thinking: a constant progression of new understandings based on the observable universe.

Unfortunately not all of the world is observable to us.

Coincidentally, that truth is just another reason to compare notes with other people … If you’re both willing to talk about it.

Personal lives, religion and politics. That’s the trifecta of ‘undiscussables’ in our “modern” world. I’d like you, the reader, to reflect on the 2016 presidential election with these questions:

  • Do you know the opposing viewpoints?
  • Do you know specific attacks against your representative?
  • Did you talk with mutual respect to anyone who disagreed with your candidate?

I concede that I was incapable of answering any of the above properly. Not because I wasn’t curious during that time but because it is extremely taboo to discuss political preference. According to a survey done by VitalSmarts, in reference to the 2016 American election, a fourth of 1,866 interviewed people had relationships affected by these discussions with 81% admitting to avoiding political debate at all cost.

What does that tell you about civility in discussion?

Think of new concepts as clay. On one end of the spectrum is pathetic, malleable and easily influenceable wet sand. On the other end is a brick; a solid, non-reactive material. As a better way to conceptualize this, think of Forrest Gump and Hitler as representatives. Unfortunately, our modern world has several examples of ‘bricks’: I refer to bigoted people who can’t accept the potential positives of their self-imposed enemy.

Though both extremes have unappealing company, both have virtuous qualities: you want to have solid ground and represent something but should also want that opinion challenged, lest you never change, never think and never move forward.

The ‘sweet spot’ between the two extremes is what a modern-era person should be: not a conforming fool but a brilliant and independent thinker who can explore new concepts and interject with prior knowledge.

That is why opinions are so fantastic. They aren’t right or wrong and, therefore, you aren’t right or wrong for having them. You are being an independent thinker and you are shaping this confusing reality by exploring, questioning and painting the world with your opinions.

Please, for the sake of humanity continuing, form a brilliant opinion – your own way of painting the universe. Have a civil discussion with someone who doesn’t agree. Compare notes with your counterpart and expand each other’s mind.

Accept that you may be wrong.

And know that it’s human.

As French philosopher Michel-Montaigne eloquently puts, “It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.”

I couldn’t agree more.

2 thoughts on “Why Differing Opinions Matter

  1. Lorenzo

    This article is well written and easy to read. The introductory paragraphs have a lot of voice that makes this text more fun to read. 10 out of 10 would read again.

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