By Ella Alpert, Arts Editor
// Defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, an opinion is “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.”
The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants the inalienable right to this “judgment”. It is this amendment that allows Americans to maintain individual concepts such as style and religious preference, and broader democratic values like political bipartisanship.
This right brings a civil responsibility to exercise the freedoms granted to us. While sometimes labeled as unhelpful or hateful, our country could not blossom into the beautifully diverse place we experience every day without opinions.
While a difference in political opinion can often end in an angry argument, changing another person’s views and ‘winning’ should not be your goal, and you have sorely missed the point.
These arguments twist the concept of ‘winning’ into something unhealthy and degrading. Who blurts out the most facts or whose ideology is more widely supported cannot define a debate. Instead, the level of satisfaction each person walks away with and what each side took away from their experience should define the argument.
The need for two sides of an argument persists in every crack and crevice of our lives, whether it be a simple disagreement between friends or a largely televised presidential debate. Opinions meddle their way into family events, appear online, and sabotage conversation between people who know just a little more than each other’s first names.
Opposition acts to make life interesting, but it is not a lack of opposition that remains worrisome for the political and social climate of our nation. Our views and preferences aren’t the problem. However, the way we choose to form, assert, and support them is.
As the politically hostile environment of U.S. politics escalates, a way to combat an opinion’s harmful presentation does not pose as difficult a challenge as you expect.
Conveniently, I’ve designed a list to aid the struggle of expressing your political opinion, no matter the agenda.
With all corniness intact, the growth of technology over the past decade allows teenagers, young adults, and even toddlers, to enjoy the world within a tiny hand-held device, serving as 2020’s hub for all things creative, joyous, and informative.
However, the mystical and never-ending vastness of online media, which entails all things entertaining and educational, must also house that of the biased and untruthful.
Recognizing when this media becomes biased remains an integral part of every facet of the research process.
Most of the time, biased media is not overtly serving unbalanced information. It wants readers to blindly trust its website or article with its purpose to unfairly sway someone’s opinion, preaching myths and hearsay over facts.
To reduce or abolish the creation and active use of biased media would be impossible based upon the pure quantity and different forms it takes. As active readers, writers, and listeners, all citizens can learn to educate themselves through an objective lens and reduce biased media’s effects.
AllSides, a website that initially recorded data by a multi-partisan group of individuals in 2012, reports that where people solely decide to get their information matters.
In their findings, news organizations such as Breitbart, Fox News Opinion, and Daily Mail all conduct extremely conservative biased media, and the same goes for The Huffington Post, The New Yorker, and CNN Opinion on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Even while citizens believe they are getting information from established organizations, their bias remains as strong as ever.
AllSides also states that Americans encounter obvious bias every day, but it is the hidden bias that “misleads and divides us.” The real threat lies within media that practice intense bias in their programs but try to market their content as objective and purely ‘truth’-driven.
Taking the time to examine the context before automatically believing, and cross-referencing your findings among different perspectives in the political community, could be the difference between education and a complete waste of time.
Opinions, similar to creative ideas, need space and time to come to fruition.
Once you have approached an assortment of media, hopefully culminating into something as reasonably unbiased as possible, take time to let yourself absorb the new information. Go for a hike, hang out with your family, practice a hobby; do whatever it is you do.
Leonardo DaVinci and Albert Einstein were some of the world’s greatest scholars, inventors, and overall talents because they let their ideas marinate. Einstein once stated, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” because he realized the potential of the often overlooked stage of thoughtfulness.
Along with that, DaVinci carried the Mona Lisa around with him until the day he died, because he believed there would never be a time for which he could not improve.
Einstein and DaVinci’s philosophies transcend the world of art and science and apply to many aspects of a person’s political identity. There is always room to grow as an individual, no matter the side of the spectrum.
An average politician or politically invested civilian reads the facts and statistics and picks a stance. It is taking that standpoint, seriously examining why you took it, and weighing the pros and cons that will elevate the solidity of your claims and opinions.
Debatably the most important step of the process, respect is a universal factor that plays a role in not only political discussion but every aspect of life.
Encountering those we do not agree with is not always pleasant, but learning to treat even the most polarized views with respect and dignity paves the way for rich conversation steeped in political diversity.
Resorting to an old cliché, fighting fire with fire will not end the war, but if Americans learn to foster growth and creativity through respect, will there even be a war to end?
Now that you completed the first three steps, the next two are a piece of cake. Take that newfound respectful ideology and…
4. Communicate calmly, getting your point across without violence, rudeness, or trickery.
5. Listen to what others might have to say, just as you would want your voice to be heard, even though you may not agree.
That is the five step process; now, go get em’ tiger!