Circumstances change, so should opinions. After seventeen years of intense thought and introspection, I have come to one conclusion and one conclusion only: I should be consistently inconsistent.
Opinions can be based on anything: the weather, a person’s upbringing, and sometimes even firm conviction. My opinions tend to change with the tides, the clouds, my mood, and my exhaustion. If I’m happy, the sun is shining, and your hair looks nice, I’m likely to agree with you. If I have a headache, I need to go to the bathroom, and you smell greasy, I’m more likely to passionately disagree.
That is not to say that I don’t have real views; in fact, I tend to be very opinionated. For example, I have a friend with whom I regularly debate which subject, history or math, is of more value. I, a very quantitative individual, support math, while my friend supports history. One free period, the day before his history test and my math test, we were having our usual debate when we realized that our frustration over our upcoming exams had caused us to switch sides. At the time I hung my head in shame over my inconsistency, but now I know that my irregularity was sensible. Circumstances had changed since our last discussion; I had changed since our last discussion. I now realize that it made sense that my opinions had momentarily evolved.
To what do I owe this inspiration? Playing devil’s advocate. While sitting in class, if my peers are not talking and I am feeling particularly curmudgeonly, I will disagree. No matter how I felt while reading the text, I will counter the class’s opinions. For four years I have played devil’s advocate, and through my experience I have improved my ability to justify whatever opinion comes to mind, no matter how ludicrous. More importantly, I began to realize that logical conclusions are everywhere, and it is impossible to know with absolute certainty, which, if any, is correct. If I were to attach myself to one idea, my mind would immediately close to all other logical possibilities. But that is not what I want. I want my opinions to vary when I learn something new, when circumstances change, or when I change. I want to be able to begin the class believing that Romeo and Juliet were victims and through convincing my classmates otherwise, I want to be able to convince myself that it was all a conspiracy. I am always learning new things and hearing new ideas, and I believe that my opinions should evolve accordingly. They should reflect how I feel at any given moment, not how I felt last year, or yesterday, or even five minutes ago. I believe that if everyone would keep an open mind and acquire new opinions as information presents itself, people would better understand the backgrounds of others, allowing us to live in a more tolerant society.
This, I believe. But if you tried, you could probably convince me otherwise.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.