No, Not All Opinions Are Equal

But all people deserve empathy.

Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash

I don’t trouble myself much about being “open-minded,” because I know that not all opinions are worth listening to. I also know that all people are worth listening to. These two statements do not mean the same thing, and we’d all do well to stop confusing them.

People are not fundamentally good or evil; we are fundamentally adaptable to our circumstances. When our circumstances are violent or traumatic, we typically adapt to the fear by hurting ourselves and others until we heal.

Harmful beliefs and violent behavior are forms of maladaptive addiction. Addiction is not a personal shortcoming; it’s a perfectly natural adaptation to traumatic circumstances. Not having access to all that we need, either materially or emotionally, is traumatizing. Trauma creates patterns of maladaptive addiction. That is where addiction comes from. This isn’t up for debate.

Addictions are healed through empathy, connection, abundance and access. To put it more plainly: we heal when we have all we need to get all of our physical and emotional needs met. Happy, healthy people aren’t addicted; they have no reason to be, because there’s no pain from which to compulsively seek respite.

Experiencing empathy and abundance is healing. Experiencing separation and lack is traumatizing. That is the truth, no matter how you slice it. Opinions that are not built on the truth are not of equal merit to opinions that are.

All of us, as humans, are worthy of empathy and abundance. We deserve empathy and abundance not because of anything we have done, but because empathy and abundance heal us, and by extension, heal everyone around us. Healed people heal people. Healing leads to happiness. To lose any remaining credibility by paraphrasing Elle Woods, happy people just don’t shoot each other.

The best of possible worlds is the world that feels best to everyone. The world that feels best to everyone is the world in which everyone feels their best, meaning they experience the utmost possible happiness and the minimum possible suffering. We experience the utmost possible happiness when we empathize instead of judging, and feel empathized with instead of feeling judged. We experience the utmost possible happiness and the least possible fear when we have access to everything we need, and perceive no scarcity that might make us want to hoard or steal away.

Right now, humanity faces no scarcity of food, housing, water, medicine or knowledge. We suffer only from a deficit of empathy. When we empathize with ourselves and one another, it becomes glaringly obvious that our distribution networks, power hierarchies and property relationships are what’s harming us. These need to be undone as quickly and efficiently as possible so that everyone can have their needs met. When everyone has their needs met, we will all be safer, happier, healthier and more fulfilled.

This is the truth. There is not another accurate opinion to have about what makes us safe. We can deny the truth all we want, but that does not make it less true. We can have differing opinions on the most efficient ways to undo our harmful relationships, but the erroneous opinion that these relationships are not harmful is just that: an error.

When we have no cause to suffer, we have no cause to inflict harm. All harm is inflicted in response to fear. When we have no cause to fear one another, because we have full access to everything we need to get all of our material and emotional needs met, we will have no reason to harm one another. Our needs are physical, psychological, relational and emotional. Empathy and love are as necessary as food and water. All dimensions of need must be met in order to stop experiencing lack.

This is the truth. It is pure logic, as straightforward and uncompromising as math. There are not multiple valid opinions on the result of 2 + 2. There are likewise not multiple valid opinions on what humans need in order to thrive and stop hurting one another.

We deserve empathy and connection. We deserve abundance and access. Empathy and connection are not the same as agreement and acquiescence. Abundance and access are not the same as winning and controlling.

We need healing, not enabling.

If our opinions are grounded in unreality, then they are not worth listening to or sharing. They have no purpose in guiding or governing anyone. We are not “just exercising free speech” in sharing them; we are actively harming ourselves and others by acting based on falsehoods.

All erroneous beliefs come from trauma. It’s time for us to heal.

There is only one valid perspective to take on human thriving, and it is that empathy and abundance are what allow humans to thrive. If our goals for society, both short-term and long-term, are not grounded in increasing empathy, abundance, inclusion and access for everyone, then our goals are harmful, and we need to stop pursuing them. We, the humans, need empathy and connection so that we can heal; our incorrect beliefs need to be assessed as incorrect. The appropriate response to an error is not punishment; it is correction.

This is not a question of subjective moral judgments. This is a statement of objective, observable facts.

The sooner we correct our errors of judgment, the sooner we will free ourselves from suffering. The sooner we give up the fight to preserve the erroneous notions that feed our fears, the happier we will be. The sooner we get our heads around the fact that there is but one truth, and that truth is that empathy and abundance heal us from maladaptive behaviors, the happier we all will be. Anything else just perpetuates suffering.

But, alas, we all get there in our own time, don’t we? None of us has reached the end of the road yet; if we had, we wouldn’t be here.

On the bright side, more and more of us are starting to see where the road actually is, rather than continuing to wander out in the desert. Won’t you join us? It’s better when the way is smooth, and the way is smooth when it’s true. There is no cause for punishing yourself or anyone else. The only thing we give up is a futile, painful fight against what is.

It’s time to come home, humanity.

Conviviologist. Disorderly organizer. Writing for a world where many worlds fit ||

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