I find it increasingly difficult to watch talking heads interrupting and almost screaming at each other on TV programs. I seldom hear anything of substance on talk radio. The objective seems to be to stir up noisy opinions, not to enlighten.
If we lived our lives by truths we have been able to prove conclusively with our minds or our experience, life would be quiet and peaceful because we know few things for certain. As long as we can’t stand to be quiet and peaceful, we will keep cranking out noisy opinions and hope the noise covers up our emptiness.
We have committed our minds and emotions to opinion making rather than ascertaining truths. That is the reason we have a mountain of opinions and a molehill of truths to live by.
Most of our opinions are things we have been told and we swallow them without much thought. Some people actually deny themselves the power to think things through and call themselves “dittoheads.”
Some of our opinions are merely emotional reactions to some of the more troubling issues of life. The end result is that we end up with a lot more opinions than truths we have personally tested.
Considering that most of our opinions are merely reverberating noises in our heads, it is indeed sad that our opinions are among our most cherished possessions. We get on TV and talk radio and try to scream each other down. We compulsively try to unload our acid vat of opinions on another’s head before they can dump theirs on us.
I have been amazed at the number of people I know who cannot peacefully be in my presence for any hour without repeatedly trying to cram their opinions down my throat. Once they know I do not agree with some worshipped opinion, they bring it up over and over hoping to convert me to their viewpoint. It is never a fact they have verified or an experiential certainty. It is just an emotional belch in my face they picked up from some goofy parrot or their own reactions to troubling situations and issues of life. At the rate we are going, we may end up as a nation of rage-aholics.
I am surprised when people who read my columns say things like, “ “I enjoy most of your columns and agree with you most of the time.” My motive in writing a column is not to see who does or doesn’t agree with me. It is to foster thought, to encourage different perspectives. Sometimes the purpose is merely to entertain.
What greater gift than for someone to make us think? Our brains are so choked by the spaghetti of opinions that there is no real room for free thought.
I remember reading the words of a Zen master who said something like this: “Don’t seek the truth until you drop your opinions. Loud repetition of an opinion does not make it true. Just drop it and you may create a vacuum where a truth can enter.”
One reason there is so much conflict and lack of peace in the world is the emotional, reactive way we cling to our opinions. It is impossible for a highly opinionated person to be peaceful, centered, calm and reasonable. The stronger our opinions, the more certain we are to clash with other indoctrinated people.
I remember one time when I decided to question every opinion and belief I spouted off for just one week. Before that week was over I became acutely aware that just questioning my opinions and beliefs agitated me immensely. That’s the reason we stir up a beehive of opinions – to avoid the hard work of deliberate thought and weighing things with our own experiences.
The prophet Isaiah summarized it wisely: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
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