Do you have an opinion, or does it have you?
We are social creatures, and our perspectives are molded through the lens of what is appropriate, socially normative and of utility to us. Public opinion is usually like glaze on a pastry: spread thin and easily digestible. If we don't go backstage and ask ourselves how we came to form a certain opinion, we can easily parrot whatever popular ideas float through the gauze of the interwebs. When I eavesdrop on conversations, I experience the sensation of listening to pre-recorded sentiments. The ideologically possesed seem to lack an endearing doubt about the veracity of the propositions they tender. Pushing into the veneer of the latest bit of advocacy often reveals the particle-board underneath. How is it possible that someone can talk of nothing but climate change in January, government conspiracy in March, racism in June and their faith in re-incarnation in September? This is made possible when the real motivation isn't the topic of advocacy, but the desire to be seen as an advocate.
To have a real opinion is to have taken the time to draw one's own conclusions about a matter, regardless of how unpopular those conclusions might be. Duration here is also indicative of deeper thinking - it takes time to see a problem from many angles, to deconstruct and attempt to falsify the weaker parts of one's own arguments. It's just not possible to have strong opinions about EVERYTHING and have actually thought through the process. When I come across people who've been quietly working away at their pet thesis without trying to broadcast it to the world before they are ready, this reaffirms my hope for humanity: the model train hobbyist who's frustrated with the incorrect scale of the barnyard animals that come with the tracks. The psychoanalyst who can't square Jungian archetypes with how to actually get along with his wife. There are some of you out there like this, and many more who are hoping for a hit of positive emotion via regurgitation of the latest point of outrage and then retiring into a state of apoplexy.
There may be no one cure for avoiding becoming a human fax machine. The strategy I fall back on again and again is a patient interrogation of my own subjectivity - meditation. Meditation is nothing more than the refusal to take with you into a time of doing nothing any concepts at all. Particles of language that drift into view, images, beliefs and even notions that there really are much more important things to do than just sit for a few minutes are all forms of distraction in meditation. The practice is actually to do less, not more. To cease to be distracted by the artifacts of the mind and to rotate attention toward the origin of thought. It is here where our intuitions about the nature of self are tested. It is here, in this most fundamental baseline, the container for thought, that we can learn to become more and more honest with ourselves about our motivations. I invite you to drop the hand-me-down tools of deconstruction which are only facsimiles, and engage in the the true tearing down of oppressive structures: the ideas that have hold of you that are not your own.