Be open to other opinions


Nickolas Roberson, Columnist

Everyone has differing opinions in this day and age, and most likely throughout the entire history of human civilization. We all have opinions on politics, religion, economics, race, gender, and a near endless list of other topics. With these topics in mind, the majority of us believe that our opinions are totally concrete and entrenched in truth, that no one can disprove the beliefs and opinions that we hold within ourselves. Unfortunately, this attitude is alienating, as we close ourselves off from civil and polite discourse with our peers, from friends to family and even to total strangers. Thus, if you desire to improve upon your intellectual capacity, you should stay open to other, differing opinions.

A few years ago, before I was opinionated and argumentative in nature, I stumbled into the world of politics through the 2016 election. For years, the only opinions I held were those that were passed down to me from my father, who is a conservative and a Republican. Whatever he told me, whether in response to a question of mine or as a declarative statement concerning politics, I would accept it as the wholehearted truth and nothing else. This ignorance that I had developed was furthered by the 2016 election and Donald J. Trump, whom I had never heard of beforehand. His policies were supported by my father, and thus I supported them as well.

I decided to research them in my own time and take a few, online political quizzes to see which candidate my views “matched with” at the time. When the results showed that it was Donald Trump, I became a fervent supporter of everything he said and wanted to implement in government: expand the US military, implement protectionist trade policies, and, of course, build the wall. At the same time, I closed myself off from other, differing opinions, as what I believed was the “right” way and the “only” way. This, however, was only the beginning of my political journey.

As time went on, I learned of more political parties and theories from my friends and the Internet, such as socialism, authoritarianism, and libertarianism. I went head first into the rabbit hole, doing all the research I could on these subjects and their history. I learned of the authoritarian genocides of the 20th century, the socialist and communist revolutions that flared throughout Europe, and the fires of liberty that burned bright in the hearts and minds of early Americans and their allies. At the same time, the foundations of what I held to be true began to crack, and my past ignorance was replaced with a mind of skepticism, logic, and openness. I realized that the world of politics wasn’t just Republican versus Democrat; rather, it’s freedom versus tyranny, capitalism versus socialism, individualism versus collectivism, etc. Politics is not a two way scale, it’s multifaceted.

My ignorance in the past also led to divisions forming between my friends and I, as I was too stubborn to be open to what their beliefs were. I would bombard them with questions as to why they believed what they believed, and I would try to shove my own beliefs down their throats.

However, being open to other, differing opinions prevents this. If you are able to conduct civil discourse with people, your friendship is maintained and you either correct or strengthen your own beliefs along with their theirs. Furthermore, you learn to be more logical and reasonable in your thought structure rather than relying on insults and personal anecdotes to conduct your argumentation. You become more open to the world around you, being able to learn about different cultures, religions, and politics. Be open to other opinions, and your world will be brighter.