My Opinion on Opinions, 2: The Middle Ground

All human beings think. We all know this. Well, I think we all know this. (You might have doubts because of Twitter, but I promise it’s true.) We know this because we communicate using languages; from body language through sign language to speech in its diversity — spoken languages.

It is from this act of cognition that we are able to form opinions and discern for ourselves what is right or wrong. It is a trait we claim makes us superior to our distant cousins; the other primates who act based on pure instinct. It is why we’ve been able to build civilisations, it’s also why we’ve torn down civilisations. It’s the reason we are united, it’s also why there is a divide. Identities are shaped by these thoughts and opinions. Last week, We brought up the influence of nature and nurture on the way our opinions are formed. This week, I’d like to delve into the possibility of a middle ground.

The ingenuity of social media, Twitter especially, is in that we can share our thoughts and opinions (primarily in writing) in real time, with anyone with internet connection and an account. So when neurons fire, and form a network of conscious thoughts, other neurons fire (or misfire: think a former world leader whose name rhymes with hump) and lead to the thoughts being said aloud or posted online.

Online, there is a myriad of opinions and factions of humanity; from the far right to the far left, realist to idealists, feminists to antifeminists, Amala lovers to yam haters. (not that those two are mutually exclusive) This is a result of sociocultural diversity that has been built over centuries by our thoughts.

Now, the world is merging and cultures, blending. People, in search of a sense of identity and community often find themselves stuck in the middle. They try to reconcile arguments, weigh options, and when unable to fit the generational mould of black and white in opinions, they find themselves in the grey.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is right and wrong; clear cut rules to humanity, human rights that should not be infringed upon. The right to freedom of thought and opinion is one of these rights.

Why then, do people rage and rant when a person decides on the middle ground in a discussion? Is it not within his or her right to do so? I find that people act as though there are only two options; theirs, and their perceived opponent’s. Such people leave no room for the possibility of other ideas. I am aware that some refuse to choose so they can avoid the responsibility that their choices bring, we can usually tell when that’s happening. But there are people who identify with ideas from a side and other ideas from the apparently opposite side. What happens with them?

I’m talking about the mixed race child, who has to understand two cultures at odds; the first generation migrant who after being established in a specific way of life has to adapt to another. I’m writing about the people who have had to change opinions by unlearning and relearning, weighing options and finally deciding on the middle and sometimes changing their minds again and again with new information. These people are labeled confused, spineless, and unable to stand for something. They are often treated with contempt and told to make up their minds.

While people have the right to their opinions and beliefs as much as other people have to right to choose whether to listen to them, I think we should be able reserve the right to change our minds with new information and experiences.

People who are prejudicial against the middle ground, are that way because of fear of otherness and of being subdued. So they fight the unfamiliar, anything that is not one hundred percent like them.

When humans are set rigid in their ways and unable to make room for the possibility of new information and ideas, it makes for a small and intolerant world.

Please leave in the comment section, your opinion on this matter. Do people have to stick with one school of thought or is it okay to pick and choose or switch sides over time? Why?

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