TED Conversations

Thomas Hawkins

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Do we have an opinion about everything? If not, should we?

The ideas, questions and debates discussed here on the TED platform allow us to share opinions, answers and lots more.

What is it that makes us form an opinion? Is it something we do through choice? On what level of consciousness are opinions formed?

I chose the "Gotta Share" video as it was the last video I watched before I thought about this. Perhaps its the sharing with others that makes us opinionated? How we make our identity?



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    Mar 30 2013: I do not have any opinion about any person. I think we should not have opinions about persons either.
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      Apr 2 2013: hey Pabitra, thank you for your comment!

      With respect, how do you do that? How do you think of others?
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        Apr 2 2013: A person is not an issue, an event, a situation or a proposition. Opinions are, IMO, just not applicable about persons. One can have opinion about their actions, beliefs, positions, but not about the person.
        I am completely unable to judge persons as just persons and unable to form opinion about them. I may like or dislike them and then may change my mind later, but will continue to believe he/she has every right to be himself/herself.
        Thanks that you asked. :)
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          Apr 2 2013: Pabitra,
          It appears that you seperate the person from the behavior? I admire and respect that process, and feel that it contribures to more clarity in our "self":>)
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          Apr 10 2013: Pabitra,

          If you believe the "person is separated from the behavior" as Colleen has pointed out, how does responsibility and accountability play into this?
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          Apr 11 2013: Hi Casey....nice to see you again:>)
          I realize your question is for Pabitra, and I would like to share my perspective, if you don't mind. Hopefully, Pabitra will pop in as well:>)

          Pabitra mentions "to judge persons", in his comment, so I perceive him saying that with an opinion (judgment) about a person, he seperates the person from the behavior. People often tend to label another person a "bad" person because s/he may have a behavior(s) that is not as usefull to him/herself or to humanity.

          With the ability to seperate the person from the behavior, we can perceive the behavior as not good, and we can recognize other qualities of the person. It changes our perception of the person, when we can observe the whole picture.

          My father, for example, was violent and abusive....not a good or beneficial behavior. He also was a hard worker, financially responsible for 8 kids, did some charity work, etc. My mother always used to say...love the man...hate the behavior. From the time I was a wee little lass, I learned to seperate behavior from the person. As an adult, while volunteering with men who were incarcerated, I certainly recognized their behaviors that were detrimental to society and to themselves. AND I also observed that they had skills and talents, which I focused on.

          If people with less useful behaviors can realize that they may have something useful to build on, share, and offer to society, they sometimes gravitate to that and stop the less usefull (bad) behaviors. If people can realize that they can be a more useful and respected member of society, it contributes to their self esteem, which is often lacking.

          How does responsibility and accountability play into this?
          The person him/herself can recognize the behavior and decide to change....or not. We can still ask a person to be responsible and accountable for his/her behavior, without the dynamic of labeling him/her a "bad" person. Make any sense?

          Good question casey:>)
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        Apr 3 2013: I do Colleen. Do you think we have opinions about babies? Or someone at deathbed? Every individual is unique and cannot be judged for their innate selves. A criminal is punished for his crime which we treat as separate from him. His rights as human being are not withdrawn in jails. I am absolutely against capital punishment and see it as a failure on the part of our societies to help correct some seriously dysfunctional minds of people.
        Btw, did I ever tell you that your smiling face is so nice a thing to start a day? Sumana readily agreed :)
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          Apr 3 2013: Dear Pabitra,
          I have an opinion about babies....they are ALL cute and cuddly, honest, trusting, curious and unconditionally loving. What's your opinion about babies?

          I have spent time with several people who were actively dying. I observe that people often die as they live. If they lived life with joy and acceptance, they tend to be that way with the dying process as well. If people have lived life with frustration, struggle and complaint, that is how they are at the time of death.....in my humble observation.

          I have also worked with incarcerated offenders, and I see them as hurting children....adults with unresolved issues which often started in childhood.

          You have mentioned my smile on occasion:>) Hello to Sumana:>)

          Did I ever tell you that while I was unconscious in ICU, kept alive with life support systems, after the emergency craniotomy to put my head back together (sounds like humpty dumpty!!!), I'm told I was smiling and giving visitors a thumbs up? I guess I will die as I have lived....that is my personal opinion:>)
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        Apr 4 2013: As long as I have not seen or met, babies are pleasures - soft bundles of joy. But that's hardly an opinion about a baby. When seen, taken on lap or held in hands babies can be all those things you described or little devils who can put fingers in your eyes, shriek and startle you, cry like heaven fallen down or just wet your clothes. I seldom dislike babies but not overjoyed always either. These are emotions - not opinions my friend.
        The moment we attach an unreasoning emotional part of our mind with something, and it happens so easily with persons, we cannot have opinions on them.
        Yes you did tell me about your thumbs up :) I am so fond of you :D
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          Apr 5 2013: Pabitra,
          Perhaps babies are simply exploring when they put fingers in our eyes, talking when they "shriek" (this is their language when they are babies), and when they "wet your clothes", they are just doing what babies do....they don't know how to use the pottie yet!
          So, I don't perceive them as "little devils".

          You say..."The moment we attach an unreasoning emotional part of our mind with something, and it happens so easily with persons, we cannot have opinions on them."

          You do not believe emotion is part of opinion? I don't agree with this, because I perceive everything to be interconnected, including our processes of thinking and feeling. I don't see how emotion ('the effective aspect of consciousness; state of feeling"....from dictionary) can be seperate from opinion.

          You speak of "unreasoning emotional part". I perceive that reason/ logic/feeling/emotion can work all together. Yes? No? Maybe? It is just my simple perception and practice:>)

          I am fond of you too my friend:>)
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        Apr 11 2013: @Casey: A person is responsible and accountable for his/her actions (which includes behavior of course). We can have opinion about those actions but not the person. However, the person has to be adult and sane in mind for forming opinions.
        When the action borders on the criminal or adjudged criminal (under a fair trial), the person is sentenced for punishment. Unless it is capital punishment, which I am dead against, there is always hope for completing the punishment and the person becomes even with the civil society.
        I do not subscribe to the idea of 'sin' or 'eternal damnation' because I am not affiliated to any religious belief. I think a person can make a mistake, even a grave mistake, but there is always hope of correction and further life.
        A person is accountable and responsible by the standards of society; law, ethics or morality, and these are not absolute so they cannot be intrinsic to a person.
        Most importantly, I need to forgive persons and that urge is not so much selfless - I think it is personally necessary for me forgive persons whose actions harmed others. If I form an opinion about a person that becomes difficult. On the other hand, persons whose actions greatly benefited others, though laudable, are nothing special to me. They have just repayed the society that nurtured him/her.
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          Apr 15 2013: To Pabitra and Colleen,

          Thank you for your both thoughtful responses! I believe I have a much better understanding, respect, and appreciation for idea of "separating person from the behavior." And I even think you have made me realize that my own opinions of "separating person from the behavior" are similar to you, Pabitra, and Colleen.

          "I think a person can make a mistake, even a grave mistake, but there is always hope of correction and further life." > I am living proof!

          Colleen, you and your stories never cease to amaze me. And the more I read of your comments Pabitra, the more I think I will be amazed of you.

          P.S. Colleen, it feels good to have some time again to be back. :-)
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          Apr 15 2013: Casey,
          Thanks so much for that feedback. It feels good to have you back too:>)

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