Why take a stand?

One thing I struggle with in American culture is this notion that you should always have an opinion on a topic. In college, my teachers would find it unacceptable if a student didn’t take a position on an issue and said “I don’t know”. The idea is to build our critical thinking skills and learn to analyze different sides of an issue. There is also a sense that as free individuals, we should be able to take a position on issues and freely share our views.

My struggle with this approach is that sometimes we truly don’t know enough about an issue to be able to form an informed position. Since everyone is so busy, we don’t take the time to research both sides of an issue and think critically about them before forming our opinions. Instead we rely on media, our friends and facebook to align ourselves with particular point of views.  The reality is that many issues are much more complex and deserve more thought. I wish our society accepted and even encouraged us to admit, “I just don’t know enough about this issue to have an opinion” or “this issue is complex and I can’t decide” or even that “I stand in the middle”. Instead, we tend to think of such people as uneducated, uncultured or lacking critical thinking skills which I think is a mistake.

4 comments

  1. rohit

    spot on.. i always wonder why taking a stand is important here.. back in India.. ppl do not question your ability if you are not opinionated..

  2. Great point. People often love to talk out of their ass because they think that having an opinion on a certain political or social issue makes them sound smart and aware. I find it hilarious when a cab driver or a grocery store clerk tells me all about corruption in the White House. How the hell would they really know what’s going on in the white house?

    One of the reasons that I don’t feel comfortable voting is exactly what this article is talking about. I feel like I don’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed decision.

  3. Thanks for your insightful comment. Admitting what you just did about voting is another big taboo I think. I experience the same dilemma when it comes to voting…

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