Three friends, on a road trip in a car, were trying to figure the best way to reach their destination.
First friend: “My friend was on this trip last year, I am telling you route 2 is best and quickest!”
Second friend: “Boy! That was last year! They have opened that new flyover for public now. We can take that!”
Third friend: “Guys I don’t think we should depend on spoken words. Let’s stop somewhere and ask locals for routes.”
Now while first and second friend here were stating their opinion as future plan-of-action, the third one decided to open up for discussions with locals to reach the best solution. The problem with the first two opinions, howsoever right they may have been, is that they are mere opinions and needed support to become the plan. Without this much needed support, the opinions are nothing but probable ways to destination of the situation. Hence, the support is must to ensure greater levels of success probability.
How does it work?
Well, when we discuss all the opinions on the table, we reach on one such opinion which has surety/highest probability of success for the situation.
Here, with the three friends, the third friend provided the road to discussion in the situation, by stopping to ask for locals for directions. There, both other friends could have stated their opinion, got matched if they were right or wrong and the perfect possible road would have been concluded to lead the journey on. Everyone happy.
Thus we see how important it is to back opinions before following them blindly.
Another story here, another angle.
One of my friend was peeing in the ladies washroom when she noticed the girl in the next toilet cabin removed her clothes, hung them on the wall before getting on with her business. She recognized the clothes, they belonged to one of her friends. When she met that friend later that day, she told her how she was in the washroom too when her friend was using it, and asked her why she removed clothes.
Her friend said, “Potty is bad. Hence, we should remove all clothes so that they don’t become bad when we do potty.”
She further asked, “Who taught you that?”
Her friend said, “My parents! Everyone in my family does this! Everyone in the world does this!”
My friend, wise for her age, replied, “Well, what for the time when the bad potty is inside your own stomach? Doesn’t that make you dirty from inside?”
She said, “No no, that is the system! We cannot fight system!” (Imagine a child believing she cannot fight system!)
My friend, aghast by now, said, “What if we are in cold area like Kashmir?”
The situation with the poor girl is what we call opinion-without-support. Her parents threw their unsupported opinions on her, made her believe it was the pure truth and then sent her to live in the merciless world! Here, they didn’t even let her believe if there was any other way possible! She was instilled with fear of her forced-inability to fight the so-called system. Imagine the kind of mind this girl would have, growing up.
The story may seem childish, but the logic behind the story is not!
This can very well be the story of every terrorist today! No body was born terrorist, at one point they were forced opinions of others without giving them space of developing their own, barred from social and verbal freedom and instill hate in them. There is no discussions done with the children they bring while brain-washing them in order for them to lead their battles! The whole process is mere feeding of opinions in their heads and curbing their own.
I have another story here, to make you realize how prevalent this struggle between opinions and discussions is in our day-to-day general life. The next story is the story of over 50% Indian middle class families. Sadly, I am one of them.
The story begins with the child passing 10th standard, the first major board examinations. There, he is judged on the basis of board percentage for all his future decisions.
I was not so bright in studies, but I never failed either. Somehow, I feel this is the most fucked up state to be in. The ones who top are generally who have it figured out (they just need to ask their parents). The ones who fail are also cool, as their parents will come up to them as finally ask the most beautiful question, “You suck in studies. Better, learn some skill. What do you like doing, tell me!” They can here choose anything!
But people like me, who get middle grades, get stuck the most. You see, we ain’t stupid and ain’t too smart either. We are just strangely inconclusive of our abilities.
So the child gets decent board results, and commits first error here. If the scores were bad, his parent’s ambitions would have been low giving him good space for self-realization. However, he got 95 in Maths and 85 in Science. His father took one second to seal his fate, while looking at the report card: “Go for engineering, IIT!” he said.
The problem here is not merely with parents deciding things for their children, don’t get me wrong. The child might not know anything worthy at that point of his life, hence may not be in a condition to decide for himself alone. He need their decision’s support as well.
However, the entire question comes again on opinions with/without discussions.
He may have his strengths, his weaknesses. Math was probably his strength, coding maybe his weakness. Talking his strength, running weakness.
The need of the hour then was to lay out all possible opinions (popular choices, impopular choices, engineers, doctors, cook, driver, etc) and then discuss them against what all he possessed as strengths and weaknesses.
However, somehow parents feel they can skip all the middle discussion steps. Even better, they do this discussion between themselves (where mothers nods to what father has to decide) or may be in their own heads. However, the child is rarely part of this discussion. His opinion may be taken, but that would be a lie.
The father of our hero took his opinion in settling his future by asking him if he wanted to be an engineer or a doctor, as he had decent marks in Math and Science.
Hence, we see how senseless people’s opinions can feel when put in perspective of the bigger picture. This makes it critical for people to value discussions before reaching decisions, both for themselves and for others too.