‘Everyone is entitled to their opinion’ is true in every sense of the word, but a very overused term in the modern world. Given that we all are in fact entitled to our own opinions, isn’t it imperative that all of us actually have an opinion? Or maybe not? Should everyone have an opinion on everything? Right or wrong, left or right, but is it really important that we have opinions on everything?
Certainly, to hold an opinion is like holding a part of your morals or beliefs on a said issue. When we hold an opinion on something, we would like to believe that, it is the way we must lead our lives. An opinion is usually something that is backed up by facts, but most probably, is swayed by our moral standing on the issue. Say, if we are extremely religious, we will not accept a policy of abortion and reject the left-wing narratives in society. This is also true in the case for homosexuality, if we are extremely religious, we might let our moral or religious sentiments cloud our judgements on the issue and would even go to the extent of shutting out all the opposite views on the issue, and eventually resort to the rhetoric of “everyone is entitled to their opinions”, to end all forms of further discourse.
It goes further than that- why do we have white supremacists who carry around pitchforks, wearing Nazi symbols and shout out racial slurs? Why do we see a section of society choosing to marginalize a group of people because their opinions differ from others’? But, is it just the fact that we have plethora of opinions in society, which is the root cause of all these problems? Most definitely not. It is not the fact that we all have different opinions which is the point of contention, but the abhorrent lack of one, which is backed up by any sense of rational thinking. In a recent study conducted by Forscher and Kteily, a comparative analysis of the results of a simple test of alt-right supporters in the United States of America and the non- alt right supporters in the country was carried out. The survey asked a rather simple question- “how evolved you would consider other people?”. In the survey, they were shown a picture of the evolution of man from his ancestors, who slowly learns how to stand up-right. Further, the survey asked everyone to rank certain groups of humans from a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being not human at all, and 100 being fully human.
The average scores of these groups were as follows; they ranked themselves( White people) the highest with an average score of 95, Americans in general 88.63, men a score of 88.47, Donald Trump 82.82, Republicans who refused to vote for Trump a score of 69.75, African Americans 64.72, people from the Middle East 58.77, feminists 57.22, Muslims a score of 55.4 and finally, they ranked Hillary Clinton a score of 54.83. On a comparative note, the other group of individual- the non-alt right supporters scored all these groups a score above 80-90 on average.
This is also evident in other instances and not just with the alt-right party. Today, we see Donald Trump calling out countries that he wants to send immigrants back to as “shithole countries”, and all Mexicans as “rapists”, or how in Rwanda, the Hutu called the Tutsis as “snakes”, and how the Nazis called the Jews, “disease-transmitting parasites”- which, they somehow turned into an excuse to commit atrocious crimes in the name of a greater good. The very act of dehumanizing people, as a psyche, allows people to harm others without them ever considering the moral repercussions. It is easier to hurt people when they are not considered human. As scary as it may seem, it is unfortunately a narrative that has been pushed forward in society for several years, normalizing certain behaviours more than the others.
But the problem arises when people are extremely rigid in their views on an issue that, they do not seem to understand the very purpose of even having an opinion; having discourse. Taking it a step further, we can see that there are many individuals who simply choose not to have an opinion on certain issues, where they choose to be ignorant. Maybe taking the stance that everyone does not have an opinion, is unfair to hold, because inherently everyone does have a moral compass, whether it is being influenced by social narratives or not. Every individual is a self-serving being who has a sense of right and wrong. But it is certainly true that these people are too ignorant to even have an opinion. This is extremely problematic in the sense that, those who do not have an opinion have the privilege to not have an opinion. Their lives are not affected in any way whatsoever by having or not having an opinion on the issue.
Ignorance eventually stems from this level of privilege. There are various players in the market who can feed off from this ignorance that people have on issues towards feeding their own propaganda in many ways that we will eventually subscribe to, as a norm. People will simply interpret one’s lack of opinion as silence, as a form of consent which will feed to their propaganda. A simple example of this is that of media houses, who have vested interests with certain political parties and would force certain opinions more than others, and individuals without an opinion of their own would blindly subscribe to this.
The very fact of having an opinion will finally help us question societal norms that have been normalized in the society. The concept of having discourse and discussion to influence social change would become pointless if we no longer have opinions. It is imperative to have an opinion on everything, even with issues which do not concern us. It is important to make these issues about us, hold true to our opinions, and eventually garner support to push for actual change to influence the lives of other individuals in the society.
Picture Credits : cw.ua.edu