Choosing sides is fun. Be it politics or pop culture, nothing validates an opinion better than classifying opposing opinions as wrong. Sometimes, as seen by Holocaust deniers or the anti-vaccine movement, it’s possible people can be completely and utterly wrong. However, in the general case, both sides have merits and both sides have pitfalls. When trying to gain a perspective of the bigger picture, it’s best to position oneself somewhere in the middle.
This versus that
We live in a world with seven billion perspectives. Seven billion lifetimes of thought and contemplation. Of course, one cannot listen to every lifestory nor hear every person’s opinion. So we form into groups, with each important group representing something between the loudest minority or general majority of people with a particular set of opinions. This is a system able to properly distinguish emerging schools of thought while categorizing people into said schools, enabling people to efficiently organize, communicate, and compare ideas.
This does not imply that everyone in a group has well formed opinions. Quite the opposite in fact – these groups require people to give considerably less thought into their beliefs. Immersing oneself in a group for a few ideas can easily lead to naturally picking up other beliefs of the group, as many people will adapt for acceptance. This lower barrier to entry for taking sides is a core part of the conflict between groups, as society seems to reinforce beliefs by ridiculing opponents who don’t fully understand theirs – consider the plethora of “Person X DESTROYS believer of Y” videos online.
Given a large enough group however, there tend to be many people who have given careful time and consideration into why they believe what they believe. Thus, one cannot simply sweep a prominent idea under the rug because of a few bad apples. To do so is to throw away ideas which stood the test of time and the people behind them. If proposed a ridiculous sounding idea, merely dismissing it without consideration denies you of a potentially meaningful realization. Instead of “No, that’s wrong”, all parties benefit more from “Why?” The pursuit of knowledge would have ended a long time ago if we dismissed everything we didn’t believe.
An invaluable skill that many successful people have is the ability to play with an idea without accepting it. This is essential for multiple reasons:
- By entertaining an idea, you can learn key takeaways from views that may appear ridiculous at first
- You can reinforce your beliefs by attempting (and failing) to convince yourself of an opposing view
Additionally, many people are absolutely rubbish at laying out a convincing argument. Requiring the persuasion of other people to change your mind will result in your mind rarely being changed. Sometimes, the best person to convince you of something is in fact, you.
- Don’t discredit an idea based on the people proposing it
- Don’t discredit a person based on the group they belong to
- Doing so inhibits learning for both parties
- If someone can’t convince you of something, try convincing yourself
This is not a fully fleshed out idea of mine, nor is this idea exclusively mine. There are both counter arguments and room for expansion, however I think this is best left up to the reader.