As social beings we are pretty easily persuaded, some of us more easily than others (eh-hem).
You probably share an opinion with the majority of people around you. You also hold your views for moral reasons. You're a good person, you just want what's best for everyone. I mean, very few people are aiming down in life, right? That's why it's hard to diverge from your opinions, because they aren't just true...
Whether you like it or not, two people who believe opposite things both think they are doing what's right. They're good people swimming in opposite directions.
When your equal opposite challenges your ideas it feels like a threat to all of the goodness in the whole-wide-world. That's because you're right. And, they are animals, demons and devils.
And you're not.
But the truth is, we're like a school of fish, instinctively following the mass, not really knowing where we're headed. Don't get me wrong, we're smarter than the average fish. Human brains have incredible potential to think independently and cooperatively at the same time.
To say that most of us are followers feels like a judgement, doesn't it? That's because we imagine we came up with the ideas we maintain. Some of us do. Those 5% of people have ridiculously high IQs. By no virtue of their own, they've taken the human brain to a whole new level.
The interesting thing about ideas is, they live longer than people do.
Following the masses has value. For example, swimming in schools makes fish appear bigger and stronger. And it's not an illusion. They are stronger for swimming in mass. One fish would be consumed by the nearest shark in no time if they swam alone. But a shark can't swallow the whole damn school, can he? He even hesitates approaching a large glimmering amoeba. Still, nature does it's thing and some fish fall prey to their predictor, despite the groups best effort.
When humans follow the stream, we are doing the same thing. We're trying to organize stable societies that allow the individual to survive and even thrive.
Remember that blood-bath we call the 20th century? It really demonstrated that some ideas are better than others. Like a current moving a school of fish along, when an idea creates an unstable society that crushes individuals, it's fair to say that idea is bad. If some ideas are bad then how can we know the ones we keep are good? Sometimes we can't know right away, if that idea is new. But if your idea has already been tested, you can examine the outcome.
Communism, Socialism and Capitalism come to mind. These are experiments we've already tried. We can study which ones flourish and which ones fail.
Here's the thing, no one marks their calendar to examine the ideas they maintain. So, how will you ever know that the current you're swimming along in is actually accomplishing the moral end you think it is? Especially, because humans seek out proof that their ideas are right and avoid facts that disprove them, we're bias to confirmation that tells us we're right.
The only real way to know your ideas are good ones is to let them be challenged. The only people who can show you if your ideas are actually right are people who disagree with you. Either they'll prove your idea wrong and you'll thank them for it later, or they won't be able to, which will demonstrate exactly why your idea is right, giving you actual cause to claim moral virtue.
Either way, it's a win-win!
Full disclosure, this idea isn't mine. I got it from a guy who has an IQ over 155. I'm just the tool pushing his idea along. But, what about you? By nature of being alive, you propel ideas that will out-live you.
Do you know what those are? How do you know the outcome of your ideas are morally superior to others, as you think they are?
That is seriously worth thinking about.
I'm not saying to always question what you know is true. On the contrary, when you find truth hold on to it like a life-line. But what I'm saying is, don't trust what you know unless you've let your fieriest adversary take a solid swing at it.