Friday, 27 November 2015

Opinions! Why we love them so damned much!

Good morning Reader,

Enjoying your Saturday morning? I must say I find Saturday to be a rather rubbish day, don't get what all the fuss is about.

Speaking of opinions I was being a wall-flower the other day and listening to a conversation that I don't think I was really a part of but hey, better than standing by myself while another group of people all enjoy each other's company right? The upside is that it gave me the opportunity to really analyse how these people were acting and wonder why.

The situation was that one person was telling the others about a holiday they had taken recently, specifically about a building they had been very impressed by. Another participant of this conversation happened to have been to the same building within the last year but they had found it quite underwhelming. At first it seemed to be just a casual exchange:
"I went to this great building. All the stonework and painting was so intricate, I'd never seen anything like it. It was incredible!"
"Oh really? I found it kind of dull. I mean it wasn't that great".
Now this doesn't seem a likely catalyst for conflict but surprisingly it was. A building they both saw at different times and, in all likelihood, neither will ever see again.

However things snowballed from there. They both appeared to take affront to the other's comments and started trying to explain why theirs was the valid opinion and why the other's was invalid, wrong or just dumb. I'm sure we are all well aware though that changing a person's opinion like this is about as easy as pole vaulting the moon with a toothpick. Both of them ended up frustrated and emotional and even angry with each other.

So I had to ask myself why? Why do we invest ourselves so heavily in caring about other people's opinions? They are just opinions. They aren't facts, they don't mean that we are wrong or that our opinions are worth less (although if we are being honest with our selves the value of an opinion is about the same as that toothpick you tried to jump over the moon with. What were you thinking?).

I started to think perhaps it's a bit of a mirror effect. People these days seem to have an extremely over-inflated idea of what their opinions are worth. Imagining every random thought that pops into their head as some kind of a pearl of wisdom (by the way I am aware of the irony of saying this in my blog where I post all the random crap I come up with when I have too much time on my hands). Maybe if we all took a couple steps back down toward Earth and realised our opinions are not worth anything until you take them further and turn them into a real statement with supporting evidence and clearly stated objectives and conditions we would realise that other's opinions are also not really worth anything. This doesn't mean don't express your opinion or don't listen when other people express theirs, just realise that it doesn't have to have any real bearing on you or anything else in the world.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Rationalising and Justification of Actions

Hello Reader,

It's been a while since my last post, I guess those juices just haven't been flowing lately. But this morning I suddenly started on what I found to be an interesting chain of thought while considering Russia and Turkey's actions around the Turkey/Syria border while I was showering (strange thing to be thinking of in the shower I know).

So I recall reading several times throughout my life this idea that no one actually believes or thinks of themselves as "bad" or "evil" and that the human mind will always find a justification for what they do so that they can still consider themselves "good" in the long run. This never quite rang true to me as I've always thought I know when I'm doing the wrong thing (and convince myself this is okay by telling myself we all do the wrong thing some times which ultimately supports what currently speaking against).

But in the extraordinarily complicated situation involving ISIS, the Western coalition against ISIS, Russia and every other player on the board, which I would rather not try to dissect, I have to say I think Russia is doing the most right. Not entirely right but more than the coalition is doing and I'm sure I don't need to explain more than ISIS. But particularly the actions of the USA have been questionable to me, they seem to have made no real progress in stopping ISIS from doing whatever they feel like, terrorising people all over the world, destroying sites of immense historical and cultural value and committing any number of atrocities upon those caught in their areas of operations.

Anyway to get to my now belaboured point; there appears to some people who don't actually want to see such terrible acts come to an end and instead enjoy the profits that they are in position to receive when the world is in such a terrible state (for example certain media outlets who enjoy increased sales when people are in a more emotional state). So how do these people justify what amount to (if indirect) an endorsement of terrorism, murder, destruction of mankind's cultural history and much more? Before I'd have just thought they are aware what they are doing is wrong and accept that. But perhaps there is merit in the idea that no one believes their wrong by operating on a level I did not consider. That their national or organisational ties might serve as the justification. That some of these people are able to think "my actions don't matter, I'm doing this as part of America which is a force for good, so I'm doing good" or "the news is about giving people the truth even if it's ugly, so im doing good even if it drums up people's fear and mistrust and hate".

I don't think any solid conclusions could be made without lengthy examination of people's thought processes before, during and after such actions but I still found it interesting to consider.