The average person in a functioning democracy gets to make decisions that will affect us all. Such an individual, no matter their level of formal education, will form opinions on and about a variety of topics, character of persons and the public’s ability to accept changes.
These persons, interested in learning and progressing, will listen to others, who are perceived to have intimate knowledge and are in a position of trust, to guide their thoughts. And so we all should, but no one voice can be constantly right across all topics, so we must seek out and find the best and most knowledgeable voices on each issue, before lending our own.
Thinking before engaging, listening to many and reading widely on a topic, will inform and strengthen thoughts, along the lines of formal education merging with personal life experience. News, traditionally verified facts with some expert speculation, will foster dependable thoughts.
Now, however, most news have become more speculation than facts, driven by the speed of social media and the economics of subscription or advertising based networks, resulting in less than accurate and more unreliable facts, followed by disclaimers, like “Based on what we now know”, forcing speculation based on changing assumptions.
Hence, thoughts are formed before all the facts are in. Remembering that, of most importance, resulting thoughts are and must be designed to change decisions, or at the very least, change opinions, if not, then you agree, applaud and nod. Because it is more about, looking and being reasonable than pushing away the people you will often need.
Thinking within a conversation, presentation or debate, must employ tactics to change minds, is about seeking answers, communicating in common language and using relatable examples to make your point.
Noting that most clichés; common sayings, are time, culture and generation sensitive, choose wisely.
No one should agree with all you say, and such “Yes-Persons” are really not needed. The goal is to get a passing grade; where more than half of the audience supports your view. The person that opposes every point you make has a different agenda, ignore them and stay focused.
Your most important ally is anyone that can change your mind, engage them separately.
Opinions are well thought out personal positions, which cannot be easily changed and are best not shared, mainly because of its bias contents. Opinions sit on a foundation of inherited and experienced perceptions, true or false, real or imagine, about individuals, organisations, cultural behaviour and social practices.
Opinions contain facts that are not widely in dispute but that are tainted by your impression of its original source and presenter, trustworthiness. Opinions are not easily influenced by news, but if so, a new opinion is formed.
The history and news, facts and speculations to which you are exposed is analytically and critically considered, forming your thoughts, which are filtered by your existing opinions, to then guide your individual decisions.
Such personal decisions are tied to your moral and ethical codes, driving your very do’s and don’ts, choices guided by social, religious and education training, reinforced by civil laws and regulations.
These personal decisions are often mistakenly assigned by the individual to groups; for example, I, as a member of this religion, will not kill, is often mistaken to mean, no member of this religion will kill.
Taking our head out of the sand, each person must make their own decisions, but it is our collective responsibility to ensure that each of us have the information, methods and tools needed to make the best choices.
Decisions of a group carry collective responsibilities and if you disagree with such decisions, you must resign from that group. The human race would have never survived this long if it did not divide itself into groups of groups; countries, societies, ethnicity, religion, politics, business, unions, presents us all with enough diversity and creating space for so-called leaders to dominate.
We would continue to fight on every issue, if it was not for the ultimate referee of time. Hence, patience is the decisive virtue.
Terrance A. Jennings