A reflection on our tendency to marginalize topics for fear of rejection

Try to convince or let yourself be carried away: are your principles as solid and firm as you think?

One of the great debates of our time is about how we are able to let ourselves be influenced by the opinions of others.

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Many people say they have solid and firm principles. We all identify with the bravest people we see in movies, assuming situations of rejection and incomprehension when defending their ideas. And in our society, furthermore, there is a widespread identification with approaches that have ended up triumphing. For example, today the rejection of slavery is widespread. It is even difficult for us to understand that in the past there were people who justified this aberration. If you ask us what we would have done then, we would all have been slavery abolitionists.

However, slavery abolitionists faced all kinds of obstacles, misunderstandings and insults for defending the human dignity of slaves. One thing that not many know is that many of those abolitionists were classified as religious fanatics, since they inspired their fight for freedom and human dignity in their Christian beliefs. Would you have endured being called a religious fundamentalist for defending something that was just? It is enough to look at facts such as the social acceptance of abortion in our society to realize that there are not many people willing to accept the sacrifices that another great fight for human dignity entails today.

Perhaps in the future, if abortion is abolished, almost everyone will identify with those of us who fight for its abolition. Identifying yourself with the winners of a cultural battle is easy, but what is difficult is fighting that battle. This is something that we should consider in our daily reality. We no longer only talk about political parties, but for example about our activity on social networks. Have you stopped to think how many times you have preferred to corner an issue so as not to be unpopular? Marginalizing certain topics, believing that you might lose followers or make your audience uncomfortable, is very common.

What leads us to act this way is not simply a certain moral lukewarmness, or laziness, or comfort. In every human society there is a tendency to create ties and groups: gregariousness. Human beings are social beings by nature and we seek the company of our peers. This has historically had many advantages: it provides us with support in cases of need and prevents us from having to look from scratch for certain solutions that others have already thought of. Without gregariousness, society would have had a hard time leave the remote era when humans were hunters and gatherers.

However, gregariousness also has certain drawbacks, and one of them is that we feel obligated to receive the approval of those around us, even when we disagree with the opinions of others. This can lead to dangerous trends. In Germany in 1935 the nazis were not the majority, but they managed to drag many along not only through violence and intimidation, but also through herding, our constant desire to feel integrated into society. Today we live in a democratic society, but political campaigns continue to appeal to the perverse side of that gregariousness, with expressions such as "everyone knows" in reference to certain political positions, or pointing out those who They do not share the opinion of the majority, as if being a minority meant not being right.

Of course, I am not saying that all majority positions are wrong. It is as fallacious to believe that the majority is always right as it is to believe that minority opinions are always correct. What we must do is strive to have our own criteria, to take a position on an issue based on criteria of truth. Well, justice and reason, and not simply letting ourselves be dragged along by others. If you think that your opinions may be unpopular, you have two options: try to convince others or let yourself be carried away by what you think is the dominant thought and simply keep quiet so as not to make this or that group uncomfortable. If the cause you say you defend is especially important (life, liberty, goodness, justice, equality, democracy), it is worth taking on the challenge of looking for good arguments and try to convince others. The sad thing, having a noble cause to defend, is to keep quiet for fear of what they will say.


Photo: Luis Villasmil.

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