Peace and Irrelevant Opinions
This blog started as a place for me to work out what I believed on issues of importance to me and to share my opinions with the world. As anyone who has read the articles posted here can attest, I hold opinions on many things. While I hope those opinions are based on reasoning, logic, facts, and science, I must admit that my opinions are sometimes wrong, subject to revision, and, to be blunt, mostly irrelevant.
Irrelevant opinions are those that only matter to the ones who hold them because the opinion-holders aren’t in a position to do anything about the subject of their opinion.
It’s important to realize when your opinions are irrelevant so that you can let go of any frustration, annoyance, or anger you may have about the subject matter. Focusing on matters where you can take action and have your voice, your opinion, make a difference is part of the path to peace.
Focusing on actions you can take lets you see that you have power and how you can use it. Letting go of the need to argue about irrelevant opinions is hard, but it’s necessary if we hope to ever live in peace.
For example, I may believe that the current field of GOP candidates for US President are all twisted, narrow-minded, ignoramuses. That’s an opinion that many of my friends hold, but it’s an irrelevant opinion because none of them are going to vote in any of the caucuses or primaries that will decide who the GOP nominee is , nor will they donate to any GOP campaign fund. So, their voices don’t actually count on that issue.
Likewise for any of my conservative friends who hate Hillary or fear the “socialist” Bernie Sanders — they won’t be voting in the Democratic primaries or caucuses, so their opinions on who the Democrats will nominate are irrelevant.
The relevant point occurs after the parties have chosen their nominees, as then we get to vote for any of them, as well as third party candidates and independents or write-ins, if we so choose.
Or, at least, in some areas it does. With the winner-take-all system and the current partisanship breakdown, Tennessee, like much of the South, is so heavily-GOP that Democratic voters will be very unlikely to matter.
Religious disputes that have been a root cause of so many of the wars and so much of the terrorism are usually based on irrelevant opinions about what other people should believe or how they should behave.
Arguing about irrelevant opinions does not lead to peace. It can quickly escalate to loss of friends, loss of job, estrangement from family, violence, and death.
Peace comes from avoiding or walking away from fights whenever it’s possible to do so without too great cost, fighting and winning the fights you can, and surrendering as soon as possible when you see that you can’t win. Peace comes from letting go of the desire to impose your opinions on other people.
As Americans head home for the holidays, with the distinct possibility of encountering relatives who hold opposing opinions on politics or religion, we may find it helpful to remind ourselves how irrelevant most opinions are. Let their views roll off you like water off a duck’s back unless you believe they have the power to change a situation — not just to change their mind about it, but to actually change it.
Consider that they, like you, believe their opinions are reasonable and based on facts and experience. Even if you show them new facts from sources you and they both trust, they may still cling to their opinions because that’s human nature. How open are YOU to changing your opinions on the matters that you’re most passionate about? Be willing to agree to disagree and find things to enjoy together.
This post was prompted by Publish in 10 Minutes Per Day. (Yes, I spent more than 10 minutes putting this piece together, but the first draft was written in around 10 minutes.)