I’ve got this friend. Let’s call him Amir. Amir is from Palestine.

When the latest row in Gaza happened, Amir and I often clashed (read: hotly debated) on specifics of the conflict. One of the more memorable debates between us was over the sanctity of Israeli life and infrastructure.

Even though I’m opposed to the concept of a Jewish state built on what is effectively a Palestinian graveyard (Sderot was built on the ruins of the exiled Palestinian village of Najd, for a micro-example), as liberal hippie trash I hold the belief that each person is important (in general) and that all life is sacred. Amir doesn’t concur; he believes that in the pursuit of the liberation of Palestine it’s necessary – even desirable – to drive out the Jewish occupiers by any means necessary whether military, psychological, or otherwise; since Israel did that first back in 1947, and because “whatever’s taken by force can only be retaken by force”.

Amir’s not wrong, because what he says doesn’t violate any established universal laws – he’s not saying that the earth is flat or anything of the sort, but neither am I. We can call each other creative names such as fascist, murderer, peacenik, slave, Zionist, brainwashed, agent, barbarian, and others, but that wouldn’t mean anything. And they’d be grossly exaggerated too.

We simply have different opinions, and different visions of the best course of action to take in any particular situation based on our priorities. My top priority in that particular situation was to keep the loss of life and property to a minimum and end the conflict as quickly and smoothly as possible. That mindset can be linked to my background, influences and preexisting convictions. Amir’s top priority was jihad; to do whatever’s necessary to drive out the invaders. He flaunted Gazan military/political successes in the conflict and overlooked Gazan casualties, always exuding an air of victory, because a resilient people is a triumphant people no matter what the cost. His mindset, just as much, can be deconstructed by his own formative environment.

The Theory of Priorities (or law, as I like to call it) can be applied to pretty much any other debate. Liberty vs Security. Reform vs Status quo. Android vs iOS.

And even though this theory might sound like common sense, it’s not necessarily something you’re aware of. Maybe something you think you know, but don’t, like the fact that people who party all night are generally less successful than people who spend their nights studying or whatever. But whether you knew that or not or whether you were aware of it, I hope I gave you a fresh perspective on the differences in opinions. Every belief held by any given person is held for a reason, even if that reason is simply emotional filter. And the next time you’re holding or witnessing a debate, try to deconstruct what leads each person to think the way they do… Especially yourself.


P.S. Commenters, please refrain from making the ideologies mentioned in this post the central topic of a comment. Stay on topic, and that topic is the theory itself.