Lately, I’ve been wondering to what extent my political worldview was influenced by my parents and my environment when I was a child. Are my beliefs truly my own? Or am I simply regurgitating what I happened to soak in during my formative years? The same set of questions can be asked of anyone with political opinions: is what you believe truly “original”?
I see three possible outcomes, with the first two being the most likely:
- Opinions are formed by childhood indoctrination — the environment — with little or no resistance by the subject
- Opinions come as a direct result of rebellion (typically in the teen years). The subject ends up having opinions at odds with those of his environment.
- The subject forms opinions objectively — with scant indoctrination during the formative years. In this case, the subject’s environment has little or no effect on the subject’s worldview, either positively or negatively.
Rarely is the third outcome given as a explanation of why someone has certain political beliefs. If his environment propagated similar worldviews, then it is likewise credited. But if his environment had dissimilar worldviews, then the subject must have rebelled.