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Your Opinions Are BS!

Do you ever find yourself coming to a conclusion about somebody you’ve never met personally? Do you ever fear things that, logically, just don’t make sense (as in, “I’ll give you anything, just put the clown down!”) The reason is the same reason Donald Trump returned from bankruptcy, and the Underwear Bomber thought he was doing something worthy (albeit painful.) It’s why Al Capone viewed himself a purveyor of good, Thomas Edison never gave up, and Massachusetts voters are either devastated or elated (depending on their political affiliations.) It’s our belief systems – a complicated and often contradictory set of values that guide our every decision.

Whether you call it perspective, attitude, brainwashing, or propaganda, our beliefs create our reality. What is reality after all? Isn’t it just a point-of-view – a perspective – that we measure against society to gauge whether we’re “normal” or insane?

First off, forget logic altogether. There’s little conscious thought applied to what we believe and why. It’s pure, raw emotion that we justify with logic. For instance, I’ve been afraid of heights for as long as I can remember. I’ve improved, but seeing Bear Grylls standing on a cliff still makes my knees weak. So lets say you throw me on top of a solid mountain and put me within six feet of a thousand foot drop. I’ll probably lie down until my mommy can come get me. Here’s the rub: put me in a man-made pressurized metal tube full of flammable fuel flying at thirty-thousand feet…I’m as secure as a suckling infant. Where’s the logic?   Statistically, I’m safer on the rock-solid mountain. Beliefs don’t always make sense but we try to make them make sense.

Look at advertising and media. Look at our political systems. There’s very little logic involved in spin and presentation. Jean commercials show more body than denim. Car commercials show splashing water, trails of dust, and hip-hop hamsters. Political commercials (of which we were recently inundated with here in Massachusetts) show how horrible it will be if the opposition gets in and shining arches of eternal Nirvana for all if this candidate wins. The question is – do we buy it? Let me ask you this – how do you spell relief? Tastes great, less ____? Yes we ____? Congratulations – you’ve been brainwashed too.

Where do our belief systems come from? Parents (and many generations back to the first guy who was stupid enough to almost be blown off a thousand foot drop,) teachers, peers (definitely peers!), clergy, culture, media, and, though a smaller percentage, from careful thought.

We often judge people in history because we, as a culture, have transformed our beliefs. We’re horrified by how the Native Americans were subjected to imperialism, blacks suffered as slaves, and why the Crusaders attacked the Moors. What were the beliefs involved? Only one hundred years ago, it was widely believed that it was okay for children to be abused and to work in sweat shops at an early age. Why did they believe this? Because, at the time, they believed children to be as intellectually capable as adults, but couldn’t yet speak well. Justifiable, no, but if we were in their shoes with their culture, personality and upbringing, what would we believe?

Beliefs shape our life and our quick-decisions that we ‘know’ are right. I received an email from a teacher who first said she was jealous of anyone not living in the USA and that the legalistic Puritans formed the first political party in this country and, thus, have caused all the problems we have now. At first I was ticked-off, but then I laughed. I was angry because of my own belief slants. After all, everything I believe is right…right? Well, she can say the exact same thing. Both of us have had vastly different experiences. I caught myself and then laughed because of how silly all of this BS (belief systems) is. This is a minor disagreement, but the principle is the same whether we’re talking marital issues, neighbor disputes, community disagreements, congressional filibusters, or war.

Now here’s the deep-twisted ironic part: We can believe to believe our beliefs or we can choose not to believe our beliefs – whether you believe me or not. We can choose to believe everything we know as true, just, and right, and that anyone who disagrees with us is dimwitted, uneducated, and unenlightened. OR we can dare to ask ourselves why we believe what we do. Never be afraid to ask “Why?”  The only dangerous beliefs are the ones that go unchallenged.

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln (a man who had plenty of excuses to feel depressed.)

“Between believing a thing and thinking you know is only a small step and quickly taken.” – Mark Twain

5 responses to “Your Opinions Are BS!”

  1. Avatar Tina Camara says:

    So, agreeing to disagree actually makes sense – because of our belief system. You are right – we want everyone to believe what we believe, but would that make the world a better place? I don't believe it would!

  2. Avatar llxt says:

    i had a similar logic vs. emotions discussion in my ethical seminar last semester, and it got pretty, um, Emotional. but i actually disagree with you slightly; i think your initial values are based on emotions (e.g. nurture), but you can train yourself to approach situations logically, and, more importantly, base your decisions on logic. your emotions (whores that they are) will pretty much follow right along. in other words, let your logic drive your emotions, instead of the other way around.

    • James Cook James Cook says:

      Lee Lee – you bring up a valid point which I did not cover for the sake of brevity. I had to narrow it down to getting people to just question what they believe and look at where they came from.
      Yes, I agree we can manually override our emotions and beliefs. I would just add that our emotions fight us every step of the way (such as when we confront fears or try to change habits)

  3. Avatar Karen says:

    I love that you make the point about questioning our own beliefs. I have very definite beliefs about a lot of things. Well, okay, some of them are just opinions. But the point is that I KNOW why I believe the things I do. I went through a process to draw those conclusions. And I love getting into discussions with people whose beliefs are different from mine.
    But it's really hard to have a discussion with someone whose response to everything is, "Because that's just how it is!

    • James Cook James Cook says:

      Thanks for your response, Karen. Most people don't know why they believe what they do. The ability to engage others' beliefs to understand and gain perspective is mature and laudable (at least, that's what I believe 🙂 )
      And I too can fully appreciate the "just-how-it-is" people. I feel sorry that they've limited themselves.

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jarock74 About jarock74

James Cook is a professional writer and amateur outdoorsman. After writing things his whole life (beginning with a three-page screenplay at the age of six), he became a professional writer in 2016. He has since completed one novel and has ghost-written, coached, and/or edited five published books, one of which was an Amazon best seller in five categories. He believes "life is too important to be taken seriously" (Oscar Wilde) and lives in Massachusetts with his wife and teenage daughter.

Read more by this author on 30POV .


December 2010
November 2010
On My Honor
October 2010
Witch Hunt
September 2010
If, Then.
May 2010
Small Crimes
April 2010
February 2010
"It's Complicated"
January 2010