Many tensions arise from own opinions

"I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don’t always agree with them." These words spoken by President George W. Bush actually have a lot of merit-he’s at least aware of his own contradictory opinions which is more than most people can claim. Nevertheless, what is the point of having a strong conviction about something when you just might end up having to disagree with it?

What we need more than ever, especially in the face of this election, is consistency in our beliefs. A lot of us like to look around and think that other people’s viewpoints are foolish, na’ve or even malicious, but our own beliefs are well thought-out and intelligent.

Many of us are not aware that sometimes we contradict ourselves in our opinions-or at the very least there is a sophisticated reasoning necessary for us to justify our seemingly contradictory opinions. In either case, many of us are subject to various "tensions" in holding our beliefs on certain matters. It’s okay to have a little tension in beliefs, but many of us have a surprisingly high number of groundbreaking tensions that can only logically be reconciled by giving up on one belief or having an elaborate coherent way to equally entertain your decisions on each.

In the book "Do You Think What You Think You Think?" By Julian Baggini and Jeremy Stangroom, the authors conducted a study on some of the more popular tensions. One of the more popular tensions that 33 percent of people in their study (out of 80,000 people) held was reconciling the Problem of Evil. If you believe in God, then how can you also believe that it is morally reprehensible to allow suffering when it is possible for one to easily intervene? This apparent contradiction is the source of much debate as many have put forth theodicies in explanation of this. Another popular tension that 50 percent of people had in the study was reconciling what is "necessary" in protecting the environment.

Many agreed that the environment shouldn’t be damaged unnecessarily and also agreed that people shouldn’t have to use an alternative (eco-friendly) means of travel if available. The book posits that the problem with this is that judging what is necessary is subjective in importance to oneself. Many of us agree that the environment shouldn’t be damaged unnecessarily yet we all ideally like to use the plane or as our means of transportation even though a single trip has more emissions than a year’s worth of car’s emissions. Another tension that 50 percent of people in the study also had were tensions in judging art.

These tensions seem apparently of little value to the average person. However, we are quick to lash out at the inconsistencies of others, most notably government. How disgruntled we are when one policy runs counter to another.

With all these tensions that people have it isn’t hard to conclude that inconsistency is the norm. But if that is the case, don’t we all owe it to ourselves to think out what we believe in more thoroughly? Who are we to be taken seriously if we are not at the very least consistent in our beliefs?

Hayes, a philosophy freshman, can be reached via [email protected]

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