EACH PERSON Has A Right To HIS/HER Opinion? Really?
YOU May Have An Opinion But What DO YOU Know!
I. Opinions, Opinions, We ALL Have One
Remember the saying that there are many sides to everything? All of us realize this. We even explain this to our children when they insist that another child is stupid because he/she has a different viewpoint.
We inculcate our children with the premise that it is good, even preferable to be broadminded and be accepting of other's opinions. We even have the mantra different strokes for different folks. But is that what we actually believe? Well, is it? While many people tacitly state that there are different viewpoints, in actuality they believe that their viewpoint is the only valid and/or substantial one and that other viewpoints are somehow inferior to theirs.
It is the rare and self-assured person who can readily accept another person's viewpoints. It is even rarer for many people to understand another person's viewpoint. People who can readily accept and understand another person's viewpoint have a rare empathy indeed.
How many times was there a discussion which involved differing viewpoints without it escalating into an argument? The times that such discussions occur can be counted on a half a hand or better yet, a half a finger. More times than not, any discussion where there is more than one viewpoint, especially if there is more than one differing viewpoint, is likely to end up in a slight verbal altercation or an argument.
II. YOUR Opinion, Really Now, Why Should I Listen to YOU
Human beings have a tendency to believe that their viewpoint and/or life experience is the only legitimate one. We feel that we have the authentic experience regarding the subject at hand. If we experience and/or believe in something and another person presents a differing viewpoint on the same subject, oftentimes the differing opinion is considered to be an affront to us. Instead of understanding, if not accepting the other person's viewpoint, we are threatened by the differing opinion.
We feel as if we are verbally attacked by the other person. Probably the other person may know something that we do not about the subject. Maybe he/she has a fresher approach to the subject that we do not have!
We have a viewpoint and/or opinion on the subject based upon our life view and life experience. When others present a different opinion based upon their particular life view and life experience, we oftentimes feel as if they are trying to invalidate our experiences. None of us appreciate being invalidated. When we feel that we are invalidated by others, we get into the attack mode.
When we are in the attack mode, we assert the right to be correct and that is when arguments start. It is a rare person who wants to be invalidated and to be considered to be wrong. Psychologically, it does not feel good to be wrong. People want to feel as if they are right. That is part of human nature.
III. Different Opinion=WRONG Opinion
Have you ever presented a differing opinion and/or life experience to another person only to be told that you do not know what you are talking about and that you are stating your opinion because you do not know better? All of us have from time to time. Then there are people who personally attack others because the latter has a different opinion. Then the pejorative names and other epithets come. Of course, this is childish and immature behavior but this behavior is common nevertheless.
This type of behavior even occurs in families. Remember the adage that charity begins at home. Well, there should be an adage that misunderstandings begin at home. While there are families who are accepting and encouraging of each other's diverse opinions and viewpoints, there are families who believe in strict conformity to the prevailing family consensus whether it is religious, political, and/or similar construct.
Many parents convey to their children that there is only one familial viewpoint and any other viewpoint is considered, well, unacceptable. Yes, there are parents who insist that their opinion is the only correct opinion and viewpoint in the household. Children who conform to the family's viewpoint receive rewards and are deemed easy and nonthreatening. Conversely, children who express different opinions and have divergent viewpoints are critiqued and told to get back in line.
Many parents naturally are quite comfortable with their opinions and viewpoints on life. They cannot visualize why others, especially their children, would dare to have a different viewpoint. They maintain that it is totally plausible to say the least. To such parents, it is either their viewpoint or no viewpoint! As one parent I have encountered stating that there is only ONE LEGITIMATE and INTELLIGENT viewpoint and opinion-HIS! This parent exemplify the aforementioned. He ruled his wife and two sons with an iron hand-no dissent was allowed!
There are family members who would go as far as to disown and/or disassociate from family members who have differing opinions and/or viewpoints. For example, there are many strictly religious people who no longer consider a nonreligious and/or atheist family member a part of the family. To these strictly religious people, these family members are nonentities because they do not believe the same as their parents and/or other family members.
Derision of dissenting opinions and viewpoints do not only occur in families. It occurs among friends, associates, and/or just plain strangers. There are many friends who fall out of favor with each other because of differing opinions. The basis of the friendship was that there would be a commonality regarding life viewpoints and opinions.
IV. My Opinion is The ONLY Legitimate One
This misunderstanding and nonacceptance of other's viewpoints and opinions does not only occur among families, friends, and associates. It also occurs in the larger society. Throughout history, discrimination, wars, and other acts of recrimination have occurred as a result of one person or one group believing that their viewpoint and beliefs are the only legitimate and acceptable ones. People who are presented differing viewpoints from that of the prevailing group have been penalized, banished, ostracized, or worse.
Examples of those who have been pillored for presenting different societal viewpoints included the early Christians in Rome, so-called heretics in medieval, Christian Europe, and the so-called witch inquisition in 1692 Salem. People have been banished from communities and put into prison or worse for expressing dissenting ideologies. To this day, people have been bullied or killed because they have opinions or viewpoints which are divergently different from others.
People have a habit of castigating those who present opinions that are different from the so-called norm. It is human nature to be uncomfortable with those who are different from us. Many people dislike differences because differences represent unfamiliarity. Unfamiliarity means uncertainty and the last thing people want to be is uncertain.
It is one of the basic human needs for people to have a sense of security and to be comfortable. We are safe with those who are similar to us, especially in terms of opinions and viewpoints. We love those who are similar to us for that is where we find our commonality. Even though we purport to accepting and understanding other's viewpoints, it is often difficult to do so. Oftentimes, accepting and understanding such divergent viewpoints and opinions can make one feel quite uneasy and it is easier said than done.
It is quite difficult for people to fully understand another person's viewpoint and opinion especially if the latter's viewpoint and opinion is divergently different. It is human nature to seek the familiar in terms of viewpoints and opinions as we have a commonality with those of similar viewpoints and opinions.
Some of us actually feel uncomfortable and threatened with those of divergent viewpoints and opinions. The very last thing many people would like to feel is uncomfortable. Many people displace their feelings of discomfort with differing opinions by castigating those with the differing opinions. Throughout history, those who expressed differing opinions have been ostracized in many ways from mere banishment to outright murder.
It is the rare evolved and mature person who is quite comfortable with the fact that others have different opinions and viewpoints. The rest of us have to evolve to a level of complete acceptance and perhaps understanding of others' different viewpoints and opinions, if ever.
Each Person Has a RIGHT to His/Her Opinion
Do YOU believe that people in general are open and accepting of another person's opinion?
© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams