Pushing your opinion or simply sensitising?

I have a dilemma. A bit of a moral dilemma.

Now I often think I am right about things (this will come as no surprise I live with or socialize with). Equally, I think everyone is entitled to their own opinions – that’s a core belief.

So have I then the right to try to convince people about my ‘rightness’ – have I the right to try to change their minds?

I’ve been asking a few random people recently – in the interests of entirely non-academic research. Best answer so far: “Yes, you have the right to try, and yes, they have the right to tell you to get lost…”

But there was also another suggestion of a different way to look at it.

Many of our opinions are formed from half-knowledge – stuff we’ve overheard or read, but never really considered. We make assumptions, fill in gaps, guess and generally make it up to fit our worldview. We often have opinions that are not based on full information or considered perspectives  – often we adopt an opinion before we’ve even thought about the subject for ourselves.

Someone coming along with a new perspective in this case isn’t actually challenging our opinion – instead they are simply offering us more information. Once we take that information on board, perhaps our thoughts will be different, perhaps we will change our own mind?

I learnt another new word – ‘Sensitise’.

sensitise – cause to sense; make sensitive; “She sensitized me with respect to gender differences in this traditional male-dominated society.”  www.thefreedictionary.com

So some of what we do isn’t about going I’m right and your wrong, it’s about sensitizing people to the issues. That might be about systems and structures, legislation, or simply about how it feels.

I like the idea that sometimes I am there to sensitise people. I also like the idea that sometimes it’s not that I am wrong, it’s just that I’ve not been sensitised. It’s going to form part of my new way of seeing the world – I’m a sensitisor! All I need now is the T-shirt…

(Oh and I’ve checked, you can spell it with a Z or an S).

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