“Today, I accept that everyone in the world has different opinions. I respect their right to hold these opinions free from fear or the threat of violence.”
Acceptance is a word you may not like. After all, accepting that someone holds an opinion about something you find abhorrent may go against every fixed idea in your mind, but let us explore this together.
“I believe that women should not be allowed to have abortions” “I believe that women should be allowed to have abortions”
If you notice the above statements they are exactly the same, except one says should, the other says should not. Only one word is different, but it has the potential to create violence and anger amongst believers of either statement.
“A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.”
“I’m right! You’re wrong!”
Every day, somewhere, someone is thinking, or telling someone, that, because, you see, when you have an opinion about something, you must be right, and anyone who holds an opposing view is, in your opinion, a foe, with whom to do battle.
Occasionally the opposing views will end in murder. Why? Well, when people run out of words they resort to more convincing methods – guns, knives, fists, etc… That’s how primitive we really are as a species!
Whether the opinion is in a classroom, or is held by teachers, religious people, or governments makes no difference. You see, any opinion is an extreme position, as it does not allow room for any movement. “That’s my opinion, and that’s the end of it!”
But. And there is a but.
If all we do is hold an opinion to ourselves, what harm does it do?
But. And there is another but!
We can’t keep our opinion to ourselves can we? We have to share it, and try to convince people at any cost that we are right and they are wrong.
Whether we have any evidence that we are right is irrelevant. And even if we do, the point of trying to convince people (in my opinion) is to bend them to our will. It seems to make life better for our brains!
“Yes you are right, I see that now,” even if you don’t is better than being physically or mentally beaten into submission.
And the winner of the opinion contest can go away happy in the knowledge that he is right. It doesn’t really help us in our quest for enlightenment, knowing we are right, does it?
So how do we transcend this? Well, you notice that I made the statement “I respect their right to hold these opinions…”
To me, respecting people’s rights to hold (not express) opinions is fundamental in helping us move past fixed positions. If I respect your rights and you respect mine, then what is the point in holding onto fixed opinions? If you hold an opinion but do not express it, then the whole contest of your opinion vs. my opinion becomes very childish indeed.
Do you agree?
And even if you do agree, why should it matter to me?
by alan macmillan orr