We All Have Opinions
The world is full of different opinions; it doesn't matter what the subject is, but opinions will appear. My computer dictionary says this when I typed the word in:
"A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge."
I really like that description of what an opinion actually is, rather than what people think it is. It is interesting to note how many people give their opinion and said with such conviction as if it were somehow written into law and based on the absolute truth.
Opinion is really a viewpoint, and in most cases, on any given subject, is only that. It is a perspective, formed from the angle of where that person is looking in regard to their particular circumstances.
A woman having a hot flash may open all the windows and declare, in the middle of winter, that it is extremely hot in the house. From her perspective, that is an absolute truth, based on direct experience. But in fact, it is really only a relative truth. Another person in the house, not experiencing a hot flash may regard the temperature as decidedly cold with all those windows open!
I once heard it expressed rather crudely by someone as follows: "Opinion is like an asshole ~ we all have one!"
I suppose, try as we might, we cannot escape from the fact that people have opinions as well as an anal passage. Both are a fact of life. The one thing that these have in common is that both often squeeze out vile, odious things.
Yes, that old chestnut would of course, rear its ugly head. But let's really look at it; there is an estimate of around 33,000 different Christian denominations throughout the world. (Please see the link below for details)
In all those denominations, millions of people are declaring their opinion of rightness. This is the way, not that way. I'm right, you're wrong. The Bible says this...No it doesn't, it says this. As the wise sage said once to two men arguing, they can't both be right.
Then, by extension, we can add all the other religions into the mix, declaring that Islam is the only true religion, or that the Jehovah's Witnesses, (as they claim it) are the only people who have "the truth" as they call it.
But again, none of this is based on evidential grounds, no matter how much the proponents of these religions want to inflict such beliefs upon others. These are merely opinions, as applied to a choice in the religion that appeals to the individual involved. Most religious belief is really only a result of upbringing rather than a conscious choosing being involved, in any case. There is no actual substantial proof to bear out their beliefs that would stand up in a court of law.
The astonishing thing about religious diversity is the lack of questioning as to why it is so diverse? The diversity exists because of the lack of evidence, the proofs which are irrefutable. The interpretations of religion are myriad because the lack of direct experience of Truth is at the heart of the issue. People are guessing at Truth. They are basing belief on faith, not on direct experience. The fear engendered by religion becomes the catalyst for strong opinions in order for the exponents of any particular belief system to feel spiritually and morally superior to others.
I cannot count the number of individuals who have been quick to tell me "I am a Jehovah's Witness" "I am a Catholic" "I am a Muslim" "I am a Spiritualist" "I am a Rosicrucian" and on it goes.
I make no particular judgement on some of the above, and indeed, the latter two of these groups in particular have my philosophic sympathies; the issue here, though, is the labeling. People want to have opinions, they want to express them, and they want a name for themselves in which to clothe their opinions in a belief system.
The problem comes in wearing your beliefs as a badge of honour in order to disprove others because you belong to a 'better' club.
A belief does not make it the absolute Truth, however.
It's been wisely said that we should never discuss religion and politics when in company with others; why? Because it provokes arguments. Politics, like religion, is just another hobby-horse for the so-called culturally elite who feel that they are well-informed enough to climb on this hobby-horse and scream their philosophy at the minions beneath them, brandishing the sword of right-ness. It is the "I am right, you are wrong" brigade once more, in all their glory.
It is a curious matter that when we watch parliamentary or senate debates on television, how little opposing parties actually agree on any subject. You name it, they'll disagree on it. Why? Simply because they are in 'opposition' and they take this to the extreme of meanings being "whatever you say, whatever bill you submit, I will disagree with you." It is argument for argument's sake. That is not politics, that is narrow-minded bigotry; ditto for religion.
During the dark days of the Second World War, Britain's government, under Winston Churchill, was a coalition government of the three major political parties. All members of the war cabinet from differing political spheres were working together for a common cause. It was considered one of the finest governments ever to have held office.
I think that we can learn a lesson from this; when the cause is just, and it is for the common good and not for gaining political points, people of different temperaments and ideologies can group together in a common cause and work together to achieve great ends.
Why did such a coalition of different political beliefs and viewpoints work so well? Because not only was there a common cause of fighting Nazi tyranny, the individuals involved lost all desire for self-aggrandizement or political gain. They merged themselves in a collective cause and forgot about their selfish differences.
At the heart of most religious and political beliefs is some kind of selfish gain in mind. The religionist wants his little piece of heaven, and if he claims to have found the right expression of that belief then he is 'saved.' He is somehow elevated above the lesser mortals around him and has safeguarded his secure place in heaven, especially if he denounces the beliefs of all other people, no matter about their own particular validity.
The politician will always score points against his political enemies if he makes a stand against his enemies' proposals, no matter how reasonable those proposals may be. His job is to make the other look foolish no matter what he says in his defence. One party comes into power and spends on the economy, raising taxation, the other party takes control of government and cuts back on spending on the economy and reduces taxation. All this is done because somewhere, such policies are written in a little red (or black) book which says words to the effect of "This is the party line, this is how we do it."
It is rare indeed, to ever hear one politician of a different flavour praise another politician of a different political persuasion; Again, ditto for religion. There is always the need to be right. Always the need to be the one holding the right beliefs, the right objectives, the right opinion.
When beliefs and opinions become part of a 'club' mentality, we lose complete sight of the truth, which, if we lie on the left side of things, or on the right side of things, the truth may in fact be found somewhere in the middle.
The World is Flat
Ah, another old chestnut for me, the Flat Earth Society; go online and find out more if you're curious, but yes, there is quite a large group of the human race who claim that the world is flat, not spherical, despite billions of photographs and film of the Earth from space. You see, the Flat Earthers believe that all the so-called footage of the Earth is CGI - That's Computer Generated Imagery for the rest of us.
Oh dear, now even hard evidence is being forced to fit a false reality. Rather like religion, which tries to make reality fit its belief systems, the Flat Earthers want to convince us of optical illusions, of the sun and moon orbiting the Earth and being much closer to the Earth than we're told. The rant goes on and on. The Earth, according to the Flat Earthers, does not rotate, but is endlessly ascending upwards at a speed which stops everything flying off into space (I'm not joking, they actually believe this nonsense) and oh, it has a protective dome over it so that we don't all get blown off by the force.
Check this out, and you will be amazed by what people actually subscribe to believing in.
We will always encounter opinions, on any subject under the sun; "That's not white, it's cream. Maybe it's even grey. Nah, it's black."
We will always be divided, on anything you can name, from taste in clothing to physical attraction, to religion, to politics, even to the shape of the Earth itself. We must each learn that in order to truly grow and develop as a human being, no belief should ever be set in stone. The truth, whatever it may be, is not permanent for any one time in history. Truth is always in a state of unfoldment, like a rose beginning as a bud and opening up slowly to reveal its many layers and ultimately its perfume. It simply isn't static.
What was once true for us, was that the Earth was flat, then we realised it was actually a globe, and then that the sun was millions of miles away, and that the moon orbited the Earth, and that the Earth in its turn orbited the sun, and these existed in a galaxy which revolves around a greater galaxy still, in a massive spiral arm of countless stars, not to mention black holes, wormholes and Quantum Physics. Our beliefs too have changed, as has our politics. There is no such thing as a static belief system.
We must allow our opinions the flexibility to change according to new knowledge, or to form new opinions when a better way is demonstrated. Keeping our minds malleable, we can give space to those things which we do not yet comprehend.
Opinion must only ever be a current state of understanding, not a definitive and final destination.