Sit me down and ask me about God and I will drown you with words about why I think this and that about such and such. But once I take two steps back, it’s clear to me that there is little to no merit to my “opinions”. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Catholic and a Christian and have never read the Bible – don’t even know who wrote it! My perception of the Islamic world has forever been tied to images of violence and terror. The Vatican is where the Pope lives and that one scene in Mission Impossible took place. Embarrassingly enough, I credit the majority of my knowledge to having watched (not read) the Di Vinci Code.
People’s strongest opinions often pertain to the subjects that they have the least experience in – opinions that were inherited from parents, teachers, or grandparents. We call them opinions, but actually value them as creed or fact. As if our entire identity is founded in them, we fear and avoid ever allowing anyone or thing to change these beliefs, and only deem creditability to information that supports our side.
In our world of information where nearly every snippet of known knowledge is only a few clicks away, we are pressured into believing that we should be aware of everything. That no matter what the topic is we not only know something about it, but also have strong feelings pertaining towards it that are backed by both logical and academic analysis. Take a second to look introspectively, though, to challenge yourself. Let the words democrat, republican, religion, communism, capitalism, education, parenting, or health ring through your head and pay attention to what thoughts they trigger. Are the feelings aroused the same you have always had? Did YOU formulate those opinions for yourself? Is the reason you are a die-hard conservative because you lived the nightmare of escaping Cuba on a 10 x 10 foot raft? Are your views on religion founded from having actually experienced a faith?
It’s difficult – I know – constantly challenging yourself. For being apart of a generation where 65% of young adults hold college degrees, or are in college, we all desire to think of our selves as intelligent people – but what have we come to view intelligence as; knowledge. I’m not sure about you, but I find this to be skewed. If knowledge were intelligence encyclopedias would be geniuses. Intelligence is the ability to process information, apply it, and benefit either yourself or others using it. Intelligent people think dynamically, not absolutely, because information changes. The sun no longer revolves around the earth, the world is no longer flat, flight is possible, and heaven isn’t in the clouds after all. Just like information is dynamic, we must allow ourselves to be as well.
“Confidence is ignorance. If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know”
It was Eoin Colfer who said that, and what wise words they are. For the times that we are most blindsided in life are the times when we get too comfortable with ourselves. Therefore, challenge yourself to truly have an open mind, challenge yourself to change. The next time someone asks you for your opinion on something, say you’re unsure and instead listen to theirs. Instead of priding yourself on your steadfast beliefs, seek out information that could potentially uproot them. Mental fortitude and strength of character are developed like immune systems. The more they are exposed to, the further we push them, the stronger they become.