At any given point in time, the number of strongly held opinions that exist on any given topic is staggering. The best way to understand how so many different opinions can exist is to take into account the vast number of life experience combination’s that each person can possibly encounter.
Groups of people with similar backgrounds, experiences, and influences will have similar belief sets, but we will clearly find diversity even within those sets of similarity, too.
Life experiences, once experienced, whether interpreted as good, bad, or indifferent, can not be “un-experienced” – we become irreversibly marked by them. While it is possible to re-interpret events to have more empowering meanings, the events themselves never “un-occur”.
Hence the quote:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. ” – Heraclitus
While certain experiences will clearly be more impactful and meaningful than others, all experiences become a part of our unique individual personal history — possibly as unique as fingerprints. Or, similar to a science experiment or a recipe, the unique combination of inputs and ingredients collectively combine to become something slightly different each time.
Examining the foundation of our own beliefs can help us understand the uniqueness of our own experiences, and consequently can help us understand how other people can hold such diametrically opposing points of view, too.
To further explore this concept, consider the following questions:
What are your beliefs about people, society, or the environment around you?
Do you know why you believe what you do?
For those beliefs that you hold strongest, do you recall how, when and why you developed those beliefs?
What opposing points of view of others are you most aware of and concerned about?
What life experiences of others might have contributed to those opposing points of view?
Our tolerance for opinions that differ from our own can be greatly enhanced by the simple, and non-judgmental, understanding that there will always exist this unique combination of influences that contribute to the formation of our own opinions, and to those of others as well.
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