Opinions R Us

We live in a world where opinions run rampant. Life has become one giant op-ed piece. Facebook, Twitter and a constant 24 hour news cycle gives anyone a chance to voice their views for everyone to see.

I enjoy different opinions. I like them because it doesn’t matter if I think they are right or wrong, an opinion shows an attempt at a thought process.

How do we decide whose opinions matter? Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, Matt Lauer, Oprah Winfrey, Bill O’Reilly, or maybe some voices who are no longer with us; Dr. King, Malcolm X, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, I could obviously go on and on. I often wonder why we vilify people for voicing their views in an opinion dominated society?

Using the example of the above names, possibly the evisceration is due to some of these voices having been deemed more positive than others. That leads me to another question. What is the criteria we use to determine the positives or negatives of an individual and what they stand for?  Isn’t it ultimately up each one of us to decide whom is positive and who isn’t? I think it’s fair to say, once we make a decision on the who is positive, we automatically determine whose opinion is worthy of our consideration.

With so many opinions on the loose, are we coming dangerously close to censorship in our country?  I am not trying to suggest that we will lose our freedom of speech or expression but in our current media climate, the court of public opinion is often a more powerful medium than any judicial court. This reality has misconstrued the idea that being a viable voice, versus having your voice heard are the same thing. Too often we shout and attempt to be the loudest person in the room. This approach doesn’t make you viable, it just simply makes you boisterous. Taking this approach proves a lack of understanding the basic premise that, saying it loud doesn’t make it right!

We have become more concerned with hearing a variety of opinions instead of listening to viable voices. We have opted for stories instead of news. Let’s be honest, news is boring. News is presenting a specific issue or event, and possibly giving some generic evaluations on that topic. Stories involve plots and arcs. Stories allow the writer to delve into issues that a news article can’t. Stories in short are more fun.

Our mothers and grandmothers taught us, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I believe most of us agree with that sentiment and it is excellent advice. However, as we mature into adulthood and we learn to disagree without being disagreeable, being silent on certain issues or only being interested in a story can be as negative as directly participating in those negative plots.

There is an old proverb that says, “the voice of the people is the voice of God”. I am not advocating that the vantage point of the masses should always be the standard. After all, take the ‘M” off of masses and what do you have?  I still like the quote though because it is a reminder that individually we are limited, but together we can move mountains.

Communicating a strong opinion effectively involves the ultimate task of attempting to “be all things to all people” and understanding that if you want your opinion to matter, you have to be inclusive and not deliberately exclusive. At the same time we must not lose our individuality and therefore compromise who we are called to be.

 


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