Welcome back, princes.
This week we’ll focus on just one of our tenets, and its practical implications for you.
A prince does not define himself by his opinions
One of our favourite YouTube celebrities (and by that we mean the one most akin to a personified trainwreck) once went on a rant in which he heartily and vehemently criticised anyone who would dare to criticise him. This tragic prisoner of conscience, this noble rogue was simply sick of people laying into a man such as himself, a man who by the very nature of his beliefs was beyond reproach! We won’t transcribe his entire rant here, that would take more time, energy, and tolerance of logical fallacies than we can muster, but we can give you a tasty sample. And we quote:
“I have said horrible things against people who eat meat… I have said many mean things about rapists, and child molesters, and people who hate gays! You f***ing a**holes! I’m a good guy!”
Poor guy, he meets the bare minimum requirements of moral decency and people still have the nerve to speak against him! What a cruel, depraved society we live in!
And that about fills our sarcasm quota for the month. Now, while this particular individual clearly has some deeper issues (possibly an undiagnosed God complex), the main crime he’s committing in this instance is defining himself by his opinions. Believing that you are your opinions is fallacious, shortsighted and potentially dangerous.
Fallacious because opinions are conclusions, not whole and complete by themselves and therefore not always indicative of the character of the person expressing them. For example, two people might share the same opinion, but while one of them may have arrived at that opinion via a rigorous intellectual journey, taking into account arguments, counter-arguments and statistical evidence, the other may have just jumped on the first argument that satisfied their emotional connection to the topic. Another person might just have that opinion because it’s what their parents believe. Each one of these people has a profoundly different method of judgement, yet share the same opinion, so how can we infer anything about them using that opinion as our sole criterion? Believing you are your opinions does not account for the emotional, experiential and/or intellectual factors that went into their adoption.
Shortsighted because there is a huge gap between having an opinion and living with its implications. Someone might believe that they are charitable because they are of the opinion that we should feed the needy – should we then define them as charitable, despite the fact that they never gave one cent to charity? Believing something and living that belief are two different things. There exists within humanity a large capacity for self-deception and hypocrisy, and all too often people will espouse one point of view while exercising the practicalities of another.
Dangerous because – well, “dangerous” is a bit of an overstatement. We mean dangerous in terms of social calibration. If you believe that you are defined by your opinions, then you will inevitably become one of those people who introduces themselves at a party, and without further ado, proceeds to itemise all their beliefs on all the political, social and philosophical talking points they can think of. These people have no sense of propriety, no feel for the current mood of the room and leave no air of mystery to themselves; they are completely focused on letting everyone know exactly what they think about everything – how else will they impress people?
Despite whatever intentions they have, these people tend to come across as arrogant, dogmatic and downright exhausting. Not the most attractive personality traits.
A prince is not his opinions. A prince is a complex and original character, full of nuance and mystery, and he does not gush out his deepest beliefs simply to make conversation. A prince is defined by how he lives his life and how much control he takes over it. He is defined by how he treats others; he does not seek their approval to gratify his insecurities.
A prince defines himself.
We hope you found this useful, and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Just remember – opinions are not qualities, and should not be treated as such.