I stayed with a German family before Christmas and remember one and important conversation I had with my host. There was probably a good 40 years between us and we had quite differing points of view on matters, but we still managed to have a fruitful dialogue (I’m sure you’ve noticed how much I go on about the importance of this!)
We chatted about difficult things: religion, politics, culture, the media, power. I hope I managed to get across my points in my broken German and I don’t think too much was lost in translation! We had different perspectives, but both communicated (is that not the most important role of languages?)
One of the things we kept coming back to was talking about difficult matters and those conversations people often don’t want to have. It’s hard to talk with someone who has completely opposing views to us, but that’s the point. It’s the only we can learn and move forward. By listening, thinking and by having a dialogue.
My host told me one of the things they always told their children when bringing them up was to think for yourself. Don’t just listen to what your parents, or your friends or society says and agree with it mindlessly. We need to think, weigh up what’s true about this point and that, then come to our own conclusions. But I fear we live in a culture that doesn’t really teach people how to think for themselves.
I know I take on the opinions of those I agree with or look up to all too easily. It takes time and effort to think things through. It’s something I’m trying to do more of.
Would you say your opinions are your own and have you thought deeply about them?