Are you a victim of your ignorant opinions and behaviour?

I often find myself doing irrational things and saying things without thinking about its implications. Implications on how people perceive me, implications on my character, image, and the value I hold in my society. A callous remark or an opinion expressed without thinking has always come back to bite my ego and left me in shame or guilt.

Calling an individual an “idiot”, suggesting a political position as stupid, taking sides with who I perceive as an underdog, or even simply expressing displeasure on friends behaviour has often made me realize that I was wrong because I truly wasn’t educated enough of all the facts, history, reasons, and emotions involved on the subject I took the liberty to comment on. I guess it is a very common position we comfortably assume appointing ourselves as an expert simply because we do not face any immediate or personal consequences to express our opinion freely, regardless of how idiotic it may be.   On a daily basis we probably voice our opinions and mundane uneducated statements about several matters and issues without truly knowing the facts, and history on the matter we speak. A very subjective point of view of our world and surroundings we so dearly hold and live by without realizing how we truly are perceived and values by those who have an objective view point of our world.

It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.~ Ayn Rand

We are true quick to brand others and shower negative statements on several issues blinded by quickly appointing ourselves as a subject matter expert and thereby demanding instantaneous respect by our peers to falter our ever deceiving ego. So, how does this very common egocentric and uneducated behaviour of ours fit in the world of reality? How are we truly conceived by our peers and society? Although many of us succumb to our ego from even attempting to explore this position in the fear of realizing how ugly we look, the reality of our behaviour does have a substantial bearing on our social position.

Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. ~ Bernard M. Baruch

Did you know that even educated and trained subject matter experts are more frequently wrong in their arguments, predictions, and opinions than right? Studies have shown that over 40% of the Doctors’ initial diagnosis are wrong, we have countless economic experts often predict several future outcomes that never happen, political analysts say several misleading statements, major corporate executives with Ivy league MBA’s run their corporations to the ground and the list continues. Yet we carry the audacity to speak like experts on several issues with very little knowledge of them.  And sadly several educated and people of high social standing make such statements without realizing how misleading they can be and how much credibility they can lose in a few moments by such behaviour.

The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.~ Elbert Hubbard

A casual lie, a callous statement, a biased point of view or an irrational act will always provoke a reaction from others and quickly brand us as either being ignorant, biased or irrational. Like many of us, our society too is too quick in forming opinions without taking the time to understand the background or reasons for our reaction. Are our opinions based on facts or for good reason? Or are our opinions and actions a result of us blindly relying on other peoples opinions?

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. ~ Oscar Wilde

We need to learn that we do not live alone in an individualistic society. We have to learn to take responsibilities of our actions, behaviour, and speech and stop living in denial. If we truly wish to grow into better beings, and live a fulfilling life where we grow to become respectable and valuable individuals in our society, family, and life, we must strive to learn, garner a balanced and educated point of view and above all learn to control our egoistic opinions in exchange for rational and informed objective thinking. And most importantly we need to understand the fact that our opinions always changes over time. As we grow wiser with experiences and learning from them, we begin to have different opinions. What seemed wrong once will begin to appear to be right and vice versa.  Only an unwise and inexperienced individual will every hold on to an opinion stubbornly without good reason or facts.

You are young, my son, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters. ~ Plato

It is absolutely okay to be without an opinion on a subject we are now aware or educated about. We will never indulge in a conversation or voice our argument on astrophysics or complex chemical research findings if we are not educated in the matter. We will simply appear to be stupid and idiotic rather than come across a person with no interest or knowledge in the matter. But we seemingly jump to express our opinions and take a stance on economics, global financial crisis, corporate decisions, political positions and several individual behaviours when we are not privy to the factual inner facts, workings, and reasons. Majority of us do not even know the history of currency, who holds the national and international debts, what is GDP and how it is measured, how is a country’s wealth calculated, how is a currency valued etc, yet we speak as expert economists and argue our statements on economic conditions. Studies have indicated that over 80% of home owners and car buyers do not know how a simple or compound interest in calculated on their credit purchase.  A high majority of people who consider themselves religious, and follow their faith and rituals with passion, have never taken the time to read and educate themselves on the “history” or the evolution of their religion into its current form. Many haven’t even read their holy scriptures in an effort to truly understand it.

The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holders lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately. ~Bertrand Russell

We are known by our actions, reactions, speech, and interactions with others on a daily basis. One simple lie to a child will instantaneously lose all credibility we have built in their minds because they have wisdom in the form of Google sitting right in their pockets within their phone.  Similarly, our colleagues at work, friends, family, siblings, all hold the same wisdom. Do not be fooled if someone doesn’t object to your wrong opinion by thinking that they agree with you. Often they do not find it polite or do not wish to engage in a conversation to prove you are wrong and hurt your ego in the process. But however, you have exposed your ignorance to them and hence shall be judge by this generous display of yours. So, the next time you choose to make baseless a statement, voice an uneducated opinion, offer advice, comment on a political stance without knowing the facts or history, or ridicule someone for their actions or decision, or just think of someone as a stupid person, realize that it could very well be you who is ignorant, uneducated an ill informed and there by exposing your blatant ignorance and damaging your personal image and creditability. Never misunderstand others generous tolerance of your ignorance and refusal to dispute your views as an agreement to your point of view. Generally people are nice like you are to others. Strive to learn and educate yourself with facts and history of the matter, be it your own religion, a political view point, an economic condition or any subject matter. Read, learn and form unbiased and fact based knowledge. Be wise, well read and become valuable to others by your educated opinions, advice and support. Ignorance is blissful only when you accept that you are ignorant.

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect. Edward Gibbon


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