Opinions vs. Absolute Truth: Why Opinions Matter
“Well, that’s just your opinion.” It’s a comeback we hear all too often when we speak our minds. While it is true that there is a distinction between opinions and absolute truths, there is a great deal of value to opinions and they can have a major impact on the outcome of countless events.
What is “The Absolute Truth”?
The definition of absolute truth is the subject of endless debate worldwide. It can be difficult to distinguish truth from opinions. It is not that absolute truth does not exist (though some may argue that it indeed does not exist). The problem is that absolute truth is difficult to nail down and therefore nearly impossible to fully agree upon.
Some believe that absolute truth is an obscure intangible, one that can never be truly identified or uncovered. Others believe that certain religions, governments, industries or other official establishments hold the keys to absolute truth. It is the very elusive nature of absolute truth that makes subjective arguments so powerful.
The Power of Conviction
When a view, belief, outlook or attitude seem to be backed by passion, conviction and intelligence, we tend to give more weight to such ideals than we would to those which are enunciated in a flip or half-hearted manner.
The power to persuade others to subscribe to your opinions is highly linked with how deeply rooted those opinions are in your own heart and mind. If you have logical reasons and arguments that support your view and can communicate them in an accessible way, you are more likely to have your opinions spread to others. This is ever true – frighteningly, even when your opinions turn out to be provably incorrect (absolute untruth).
The Opinions of Groups
Because absolute truth is indeed so difficult to fully pinpoint, especially within certain nuances of life (such as those where “the lesser of two evils” seems to be the only option), we rely heavily on groups to formulate our opinions. Unfortunately, sometimes the group is wrong.
Opinions of groups matter because the prevailing mentality of “strength in numbers” helps a group to grow. Again, the sad part here is that sometimes such groups are fatally flawed in their thinking and can grow into something truly evil and out of control – think Holocaust, for example.
However, the good news is that groups against greed or oppression can rise up and make a difference by gathering together. They do so with a “hive mind” based on a shared opinion about the purported pressing need for change.
The Vital Importance of Individual Opinion
If you have ever heard the cliché, “Think for yourself,” then you surely know how important it is not to jump on every bandwagon that may mosey by. It can be quite uncomfortable to go against popular consensus, as you will often be dubbed an outcast, rebel, or an antiestablishmentarian.
Some people will “go against the grain” just for the sake of staying in opposition to being trendy. This results in a lot of, often unnecessary, conflict that these types are willing to endure.
Others will go with the flow as a nearly steadfast rule, even if their true opinions deep down are against the group. This can be quite dangerous, especially if the group is doing something dangerous or immoral according to accepted standards set forth by society, religions or government.
The swaying nature of social opinions is once again correlated with our inability to comprehensively define absolute truth.
One of the strangest phenomena is the fact that opinions change. This can happen even in major public figures whose initial opinions changed the world as we know it.
A perfect example is how Norma McCorvey (who was referred to as “Jane Roe” in the iconic Supreme Court trial “Roe vs. Wade”) began as a pro-choice woman who wanted an abortion (and didn’t end up getting one, by the way) and became a strictly pro-life activist later. Her opinion changed drastically, but her initial opinion was used as a vice to change one of the most controversial laws of all time: the legalization of abortion.
Our mindsets, experiences and surroundings all play a role in helping us formulate and maintain our perception of reality and of absolute truth.
As you can see, opinions can change at any time, but they can also be an instrument of world change. Take your opinions and those of others seriously. Show others respect when you disagree, even if you choose to interject with your opposing outlook. Remember that sometimes it is ok to not voice your opinion. But also be willing to stand up when you believe you opinion can cause something positive to happen.
Always take into account why others have arrived at their viewpoint and have compassion — whether you agree or not. Be willing to compromise when opinions are clashing and causing conflict that needs resolving. This is the key to each of us being our only little piece of world peace.
And let us close with the powerful adage: choose your battles wisely.