The case for having fewer opinions.
This is liberating to read, in an era whose slogan is "if you aren't angry, you aren't listening." And even if you are angry, are you angry ENOUGH?
A recent example for me is the Hollywood strike. I believe in the cause and the efforts, and even if the strikers aren't perfect, they're helping us all out in a way. But... my distaste of the industry and of superiority complexes far exceed my appreciation of The Cause. And each time I felt in agreement with them, like I was on their side, I felt a tinge of self-betrayal.
I can't stop my own biases that pull me away from one side or another. But I should have the freedom to express a non-opinion, to be neutral in a time where nuance is dead, to not feel forced to pretend.
This is another symptom of prevailing tribal mentality. If you're not with us, you're against us.
I was raised in an environment where we were highly encouraged, and rewarded, for having opinions on everything! People were often talking out of their asses but to be part of the conversation you had to opine on something in some way. It does get exhausting but fighting and arguing is truly our love language.
Eastern thought provides valuable perspectives on this subject. Buddhism and Taoism both teach us the relative unimportance and fickle nature of thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Many of life's sorrows can be traced to the conflation of opinions, beliefs, and feelings with reality. The "reality" dictated by our beliefs and feelings enslaves us. The greater the degree of detachment we can maintain from our own (and others') feelings and beliefs, the greater our sum of peace, joy, and freedom. We might also add that the greater our detachment from feelings and beliefs, the more wisdom we can accrue, and the more compassion we will have available to extend to others.
Really liked reading this. I wonder if there is something in the time and space we lack in relation to deeper first principles. On holiday I have been reading Johnathan Israel's account of the French Revolution. What struck me was not simply the intensity of feeling but how quickly events changed on the ground. The effect was a need for a constant reaction leading to for some the principles of republicanism and revolution being overtaken by events of the day.
Perhaps in the world of 24 hour news and ever more wild political events we have become inherently reactionary. We bounce from one issue to another without the time or space to reflect on what and how we feel about the world around us. We can also see this in academic study where the sheer number of articles and books is impossible to keep track of. This narrows our ability to think freely and clearly about first principles.