Opinion is formed by a collection of influential experiences, morals and lessons. The gradual development of individual opinion tends to correlate with ongoing education. This is seen through political activity on college campuses compared to high schools. With more education, especially more interest-specific academic pursuits, passion for different issues tends to grow. This is why we see a wider spectrum of political opinion on a larger range of issues on college campuses than at high schools. An important question to ask when exploring the notion of opinion is “Does opinion shape identity, or does identity shape opinion?”
I believe that to answer this, the question must break down the concept of identity into two components: heritage and personal identity. The answer would differ with each element. Since heritage is more exogenous, it affects personal growth and development. For instance, cultural heritage and upbringing tend to shape morals and values that correlate with certain beliefs of the culture. These morals and experiences shape opinions and allow for the development of personal identity that tends to correlate with those values. On the other hand, experiences and other contributors to the formation of opinion mold personal identity, which is developed through the accumulation of memories and values acquired during one’s upbringing.
Two important components of opinion are public and individual political opinion. Preference regarding political issues is a major component of modern society, especially in the United States, and is even more prominent during this presidential administration. Since public opinion is derived from a composition of all individual political opinions, they are positively correlated with one another. For example, during President Donald Trump’s administration, his approval rating decreased substantially from 45.5 percent in January 2017 to 40.6 percent in April 2018, according to FiveThirtyEight. This decrease in popularity indicates a sway of public opinion away from favoring Trump. This societal shift is generated by a common change in many individuals’ political opinion that come together and are presented in the statistics noted above. With this correlation in mind, it is important to form solid individual opinion before attempting to change the minds of others, because a persuasive and well-developed opinion is powerful enough to sway others and effectuate real change. As college students, it is our responsibility to use our education to change the world for the better, such as influencing a change in public opinion statistics.
Even without expressing opinions, it is important to develop them, because forming them is how we process and analyze information. Not only do opinions help our brains advance and bloom, but they also enhance our awareness of the world in which we live to allow us to improve it. In my experience, I found sharing my opinion to be more relieving than keeping it to myself. Writing articles about various topics, ranging from the promotion of electric cars to flaws in our mental healthcare system to takeaways from the Larry Nassar case, I have been provided with an opportunity to expand my scope of knowledge not in the form of facts and information, but in the form of developed opinions. In the process of writing an article, I analyze relevant information through my own perspective and in relation to my identity, both personal and cultural. While this may seem like an advertisement to join the Daily Campus opinion section, it is more an advertisement to express opinions and find ways to expand the scope of knowledge beyond what is taught in classes. I firmly believe that to inspire a change in the world, it takes a strong and well-developed opinion and a group of people who believe in it.
Keren Blaunstein is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.