Everybody seems to have one. The problem is that everybody tends to have a different one.
From difference breeds the basis for conflict.
Scales of conflict can range from a gentle discussion about the differences in opinion to genocide and eugenics. Fortunately people are rarely in a position to execute the most extreme of these, but it is all bred from the same source.
We like to think that modern humans are civilized and can discuss differences in opinion in a calm and polite manner. We like to think that when we are discussing opinions that we can do so in a receptive matter.
The truth is that not all humans are as receptive or open minded as we like to think ourselves to be.
The more we believe an opinion, the more we are likely to defend it strongly. The more we believe an opinion, the more likely we are to take offense when somebody else speaks to the contrary. The more belief involved, the worse the following conflict will be.
Belief is orthogonal to rationality. They may coincide on a particular topic because the belief is formed from rational thought, but just as frequently they will not.
We believe in freedom of expression. We frequently forget that by expressing our beliefs we can be infringing upon the beliefs of another.
Should you choose to openly infringe on the beliefs of others, you should be prepared for the conflict that follows. If your expression of your opinions leaves a larger majority feeling threatened, you may have quite the conflict to deal with. Morality grants you no boons in this – if you cannot hold your ground in doing so, you shouldn’t step out so far.
This is not pointing blame. This is not assigning culpability. This is just the nature of opinions.
This is my opinion. It’s not right, wrong, better, worse, or any combination or permutation of the above. It is simply mine.
I respect that you have an opinion. Maybe it aligns, maybe it doesn’t.
If you truly respect freedom of expression, you will accept this, and you will accept my reasoning. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to agree with it. You are perfectly entitled to disagree.
I am just as guilty of being inflamed when people challenge this belief – more so that through challenging it, they are merely reinforcing it. It leaves me frustrated as frequently I see the other party unable to put aside their personal stake or fail to disassociate from the initial argument, and in doing so, they fail to see this pattern emerging in the conflict that follows and instead try to insist that their beliefs are somehow more “right” or “correct” than this.
Philosophy aside, understand that this is also why I don’t approve of contentious minorities trying to ‘fight the good fight’ against the better part of incumbent belief. I may agree with your underlying opinion, but to draw such attention down upon yourself when you’re ill prepared to survive it is fool-hearty.
If you were to ask me how I would change the world – if I genuinely felt that an incumbent belief required ‘intervention’ in order to correct some injustice I would most likely answer the following:
Recruit quietly. Work silently to your goals through example. Unless you have overwhelming support, do not challenge the old ways head-on, but work to slowly build a foundation and support for the new without challenging the old. Eventually you’ll find the strength required to plow forward and supplant the old, or you will have reached a point where opinion can sway to your beliefs on it’s own.