Where do our opinions come from? Our opinions come from a hodgepodge of unexamined beliefs and experiences. Opinions require no thought. If opinion is the lowest form of human thought, why do we value it?
We hang on to our opinion because we are afraid
If someone is doing their life differently than we are, we feel uncertain around them. We may feel less than, we may feel more than, we may just feel afraid because their expression of life is outside of our own experience, our own comfort zone.
Opinion requires no accountability or understanding and it leads to violence, discrimination and a narrowing of our own life experience.
We hang on to our opinion because we don’t understand
When I took my final exam in Comparative Religion in college, I wrote at the end – “How do I know my religion is “right?” Up until that point, I had not been aware of the variety of ways that humankind seeks their own spirituality. I hadn’t known about those other religions, therefore I didn’t understand them. I begin to go exploring to find what resonates with me and my particular path and it has been a rich, rewarding and unique journey.
We hang on to our opinion because it’s easier than gaining knowledge
It takes time and energy to get the facts. It’s way too easy to believe what we are told – in the media, by others. If we want to move beyond the shallowness of opinion, we have to be open. We have to be willing to consider our options, to explore several approaches to a solution, to listen with an open heart to the concerns of others.
It’s so much easier to just believe what we fear, what feels uncomfortable, than to examine ourselves to see what we might learn and therefore change about our own feelings and beliefs.
Opinion is scary because it can be harmful
We get attached to our opinions and if they are questioned we hang on even harder. It leads to confrontation. Can you pause for a moment and look closely at your opinions and do some fact-checking, listen to the concerns of other, and be willing to expand your thinking?
The only way to move beyond opinion is to explore
Do some research. Read a variety of viewpoints and recognize that even those “viewpoints” might just be someone’s narrow opinion. Look for the facts and know that even the facts that were selected to share where chosen based on someone’s opinion of what was important. You have to look hard to find what feel like the truth. We fear what we don’t understand. Learn what you need to know in order to broaden your viewpoint.
Question you own values to make certain they are truly what you value today and are not simply the values and beliefs you were taught in your childhood and have never bothered to question. Don’t take on someone else fear. Move yourself into the understanding of the human-ness of what you feel.
The highest form of knowledge is empathy
What if we tried to walk for a bit in the other person’s shoes? What if we truly understood that we are all one – all one energy – all one spirit – all one essence. That you are me and I am you and to harm you is to harm me. What if we embraced that?! The highest form of knowledge is empathy, being able to understand and share the feelings of another.
Can you move beyond yourself?
The first step to compassion and empathy is to feel and see beyond yourself. Each of us is beautifully unique just as we are. We are here to be appreciated and valued and learned from. You are. I am They are. We are. We are one.
Can you empathize enough so that you can feel both the joy and pain of the people you have a negative opinion about? Can you look deeply into the things you hold in common and celebrate their unique value in the world?
A person is a person, whatever their race, nationality, or gender. People love, they share, they teach, they learn, they walk, they rest, they think, they create. We are all the same, whatever we look like or however we express our own individuality.
What is the highest good for all?
A person stepping forth to lead will not “please” everyone. We are too beautifully unique – and unfortunately too opinionated. What if we all found solutions that were for the highest good for all? The highest good, the best for everyone. That would mean compromise, that would mean flexibility, that would mean understanding the feelings and belief and needs of others. Can we do that? Can you?
Appreciate what others offer
A person expressing his or her gifts is simply that, a fellow human following their passion and giving of themselves to the world. You can accept it or not, but feel their heart. Feel their love of what they do. Do not let that be overshadowed by anything superficial that tempts you to bring yourself down to that lowest form of thinking – your opinion. Raise your sites and absorb the gifts others offer.
Think empathy. Think love. Think oneness.
Go beyond yourself and live in the other persons’ world.
Move from the self-serving world of opinion into the world-embracing place of empathy and see how your own world experience changes.
To Sing a Deeper Song consider:
We Are Part of a Larger Spiritual Order
What is Your Truth?
I Am You
Live in the Nowhere That You Came From
28 – How to Walk Beside Someone in Service
35—How to Hold the Space for Change.