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Unhoned Opinions

Most of our opinions are raw, unfinished things; borrowed concepts we lifted or copied from somewhere. Sometimes they’re ideas we were given at birth, in school, or by a friend at some point in our lives.

That’s not to say they’re wrong — an opinion isn’t fact, and therefore can’t be wrong — but they might very well be inaccurate for us and what we believe. It may be that our opinions aren’t ours in the sense that they represent our worldviews and morality, but instead in the sense that we defend them, standing our ground with appropriated counter-arguments and remixed Socratic soundbites.

To have unhoned opinions of this sort and to defend them this way isn’t the mark of a fool or follower. Holding opinions that don’t align with our beliefs and ideals just means we haven’t gotten around to assessing and refining that particular aspect of our acknowledged perspective yet.

It may be that I’ve yet to change my self-perception based on a realization I had recently. It may be that I simply haven’t thought very hard about the repercussions of new knowledge I’ve acquired, or how changing my mind about one thing might necessitate changing my mind about another if I’m to avoid hypocrisy.

Opinion-misalignment is common because fixing it requires a great deal of thought and mental recalibration, which in turn require effort and time: things many of us find ourselves drained of more often than not.

The concrete world, and the rushed exhaustion that comes with it, very often trumps the perceived benefits of slowing down, taking a deep breath, and sorting through the cluttered inbox of one’s mind.

I would argue, however, that time spent in this way isn’t a sunk cost, but an investment. It’s similar to checking your map periodically as you make your way to an unfamiliar destination, just to be certain you’re headed the right way, taking the right side-streets, following the optimal course.

Unhoned opinions are burdened with historical, emotional, and intellectual baggage.

Whittle away the excess opinions — those that don’t align with who you are, today, knowing what you know and valuing what you value — and you’ll find that not only do you spend less time hamstrung by guilt and worrying about making the right choices, you’ll also be more capable of cutting through the chaff when new perspectives are presented to you in the future.