Quote Card by Opinion.

I don’t like the word ‘hate.’ It’s too strong. If you truly hate something, you’d go out of your way to fix it. 

I recognize how this isn’t necessarily a fair sentiment. Systemic problems, such as racism and sexism, aren’t remediable by one person. Sometimes, it feels like the most we can do is put out a statement condemning these forces of evil in the world. Our opinions may reach a far audience, but it’s difficult to see exactly how they move the needle. 

This is an opinion piece on opinions. It seems irrational to staunchly advocate one opinion over another, especially when having an opinion does little to advance its cause. For instance, my loyalty toward a sports team does nothing to sway their quality of play. Jayson Tatum isn’t making any more three-point shots, regardless if I’m rooting for him or not. Maybe it’d be smart to allocate my mental energy toward something more productive. 

Being invested in sports, though, does present clear social benefits, especially in a college setting. It’s very easy to strike up a conversation with someone about their favorite teams and players. This made me wonder, “Would I even like sports if no one else did?” There isn’t any real intrinsic value in watching a ball go through a basket. 

I remember consciously making the decision to start watching sports to become more sociable. It’s fun to be part of a fanbase and bond over shared opinions. Being passionate about sports is something I’m very proud of, primarily because I’m generally an indifferent person.  

Back to my original statement about how I dislike the word “hate” — perhaps I’m simply projecting my own insecurity of being ambivalent. For instance, I’ll be a spectator to a heated political discourse, but I’ll consider all of it valueless. In my eyes, both sides may not authentically believe in their opinions; they’re debating for the sake of debate. This mindset itself can be harmful because I’m projecting my own thought process in areas where it might not apply. 

I even have difficulty writing opinion pieces — there’s no universal truth in the world and I’m not a perfect human, so who am I to give advice? Conversely, I typically don’t give credence to unsolicited advice about anything for which there isn’t a concretely optimal course of action, such as lifestyle advice. 

Basically, I don’t  like giving or receiving advice. I still give opinions, but only because it’s more socially acceptable to be decisive. It’s like I’m satisfying an outward persona. I don’t have a favorite color, but I’ll tell someone that it’s red. And I used to wish I was the type of person who naturally held strong convictions, as opposed to consistently following the crowd.

A few weeks ago, I was engaging in a discussion about Christianity with one of the many devout missionaries around campus. He lectured me on why the Bible is the sole truth, against which I levied arguments. It was an interesting dynamic because he was really invested in swaying my perspective, whereas I was invested in being a contrarian. 

Throughout the discussion, I noticed that he didn’t care that some of his points weren’t validated with evidence. He talked about how the Earth is no more than 6000 years old and how evolution isn’t real. Of course, this made it annoyingly difficult to debate him, but it also felt so profound — imagine the luxury of never having to question anything. Or the self-assurance needed to hold values that so starkly oppose the sentiments of our political climate, such as homophobia. This guy could be the happiest man on Earth with how sure he was. 

I stopped to think whether I truly wished I was like this man. And I came to the conclusion that I’d still rather be myself and in an unhappier state. Which means there are certain things I value over happiness. But what’s more important than happiness? 

This is an extremely layered question that I cannot answer. For instance, to truly understand happiness, one must experience sadness, and both are fleeting emotions. And there isn’t really a guarantee that anyone’s more or less happy than you. If it’s such an unquantifiable metric, perhaps it shouldn’t be discussed as often as it is.

I’m not going to conclude with cliché advice about how we should always love ourselves, especially when the entire article was about how it’s difficult to force an opinion. All I can do is present my own rationalizations in hopes that it serves a useful purpose. And I’ve told myself that happiness can’t be the end-all-be-all of life, and I’ve grown happier as a result.

If you’re a people pleaser who’s willing to fabricate convictions, that’s totally fine and you aren’t the only person who does that, myself included. And that’s a burden that you’ve put on yourself. Likewise, there are people who wish they weren’t as emotional when it comes to their decision making. Once you recognize that there isn’t any objective good or bad, it makes life a lot easier.

Rohit Ramaswamy is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at rohitra@umich.edu.