Sentiments are what they are-fleeting emotions that often becloud proper judgement.
But sentiments alone, are the platforms on which many people base their decisions; like what to wear; what to eat; what to buy and so on.
The more bizarre scenarios are where people apply sentiments to things that simply require common sense; like rooting for and expecting your preferred political candidate to eclipse his opponent at a poll when you didn’t even register to vote. Or throwing good money into a stock whose financial fundamentals you have no idea about-but because some people mentioned they were buying, you too decided to join them.
Worse still, when sentiments have the rule over groups of people, they become even more destructive. Racism for instance, is a sentiment about racial superiority over people that do not share your skin color; Six million Jews died during the holocaust because of Nazism; over Three million non-white South Africans were removed from their homes and forced into segregation because of Apartheid; Over Three Thousand Africa Americans and One Thousand whites were lynched in American between 1882 and 1968 because of White Supremacy.
And like racism, sexism, radical Islamism, nepotism and a host of other sentiments actually hold many of us bound by the dogma of other people, who themselves may not match us in terms of intelligence. Sentiments are often illogical. Boko Haram, the world’s deadliest terror group is the offshoot of sentiment against Western Education. White supremacy is an offshoot of sentiments that white people are God’s preferred race.
The truth is, sentiments are a liability, more than an asset in some cases; disrupting our capacity for counter-intuitive and collaborative creativity. But are we better off without them? I don’t think so. Patriotism, for example, is a good sentiment, though by itself can also be abused. Patriotism has forged a lot of cohesion towards progress in many countries. And in a sense sentiments are good. They have helped when channelled positively based on clear-headed thought.
From an ethical standpoint, sentiments are positions underpinned by how we feel. There aren’t enough and shouldn’t guide our decisions without applying common sense.