Have you ever thought about telling a friend, “For the sake of our friendship, please don’t try to argue politics with me, I believe what I believe and your arguments aren’t going to change my mind.”
I’ve never actually said that, but I have been tempted numerous times.
After watching the recent presidential election on television, hearing the candidates, listening to the media pundits and seeing all the cut-n-paste opinions of friends on social media, I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of people truly believe that their own opinion is the only one based on absolute truth.
I marvel at the millions of people who vehemently disagree on basic political platforms and yet they all consider their own point of view to be the only valid one.
With the obvious conclusion that this multitude of conflicting opinions can’t all be right, it begs for the answer to another question, “Can they all be wrong?”
I have found that a good place for me to start evaluation of my own viewpoints is to take a look at the sources I have used to create those opinions.
Are my ideas based solely on documented historical fact and personal experience or are they based on the opinions of other people, most of whom I have never met and have no personal knowledge of?
If the second is true, is the information I’m receiving from these people factual and unbiased, or do they have a “dog-in-the-hunt” and are just doing a flim-flam routine to gain my unquestioning agreement?
Sometimes I ask, “Can you believe anybody?” and my universal answer is, “No, not all the time.”
My grandfather, who came to what is now eastern Shasta County in the late 1800s, was part of that generation that helped build from the ground up the larger region we now call home.
Talking with him as a teenager he readily admitted that those were much simpler days, but he also had a saying about dealing with people even back then.
“Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.”
The idea of the saying was not that everyone is a liar or a conman, but simply not to believe anything as absolute without questioning its source and confirming its validity.
Yep! Even in the 1800s people were already pushing their own agendas.
The whole point of this piece is to suggest that in this day and age of what seems to be a widely divided citizenry, all of us could probably benefit from a little introspection about how we develop our opinions.
Over the years I have come to a startling conclusion, as hard as it is to accept, I am not always right.
Whenever I find myself with an unwavering opinion, especially about politics, I soon ask myself, “Am I truly committed to this idea because it is based on the facts I have dug up?” or “Should be committed because I am unwilling to consider any alternatives?”
That’s when I start digging for more information to verify or debunk my position — and by the way, I don’t mean in that quagmire of information called the Internet.
It’s usually a sobering event when the future becomes history and you realize you were incorrect in your opinions about what you thought was to be.
Having been down that road numerous times, I for one have come to the awareness that the shock of being wrong is somehow softened a little because I know I can gain some knowledge and wisdom from the experience.
I believe that we can all accept the idea of being wrong about things from time to time and if we learn from it, so much the better.
So, for the coming year, my hope is we will all consider taking a new look at the opinions of others without condemnation and that as a result everyone, especially those of us up here in northeastern California, enjoy a more positive and Happy New Year.