When I was younger people used to say that I had an opinion about everything, and I did. But I don’t know that many people would say that about me now, at least not beyond my closest circle of friends.
You see, at some point I got tired of arguing with people. I got tired of mindless and endless debates. And I got tired of coming off as close-minded in an effort to defend my opinion so. hard.
some people call that maturity.
and I probably also got tired of being taken down in debates.
and some people might call that an acceptance of ignorance.
Whatever you want to call it, I became less intense about sharing my opinions… oh I still have them, and some are controversial, and some are old-fashioned, and some are probably just silly (like, it’s not worth watching a tv show if you’re not going to see every. single. episode. this is how I feel. This can also be a silly waste of time, but I digress). But I’m much more careful about sharing them. I only share them after doing a fair amount of research, looking at the opposing side of my preferred argument, and (usually) going to someone I trust to see what they think.
And still, I’m willing to water down my assertion of an opinion with the statement, “well, I can’t possibly see all sides of this issue, so I may be off on this one.”
Some people will call that wishy washy, but quite honestly, if we all just continued screaming at each other I don’t think we’d get much done. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for people in this world who are so the opposite of me, who are willing to say the potentially offensive thing, who are willing to defend what they believe in and shut down all others and refuse to compromise. As unappealing as all that is to me (and as much as I believe that stances like these should be taken 10% of the time, not 90% of the time though that seems to be the trends these days), I know that sometimes it’s necessary. To be kind of a jerk. To tell someone they’re wrong. To say “I really don’t care what you think.”
But I don’t operate that way, and I think there are 2 things we should all consider when dealing with opinions of others: in the media, in the workplace, in our families and relationships, and most definitely on the internet.
And it’s what I’d ask you to do if you’re engaging in an opinion with me in any medium.
The first is an observation about all opinions from Anne Lamott:
–“Everybody thinks their opinion is the right one. If they didn’t, they would get a new one. ”
Point being, you are allowed to have an opinion. And you are allowed to think that, even though it’s an opinion (which, by strict definition cannot be right or wrong, though I think a lot less of us actually believe that if we’re being honest), that you’re right. That you have found the “right” opinion.
But don’t be surprised when your opposition comes to the same conclusion.
As soon as we can wrap our minds around dual, nay, multiple points of view existing in the same space and seeming plausible, we can have actual dialogue and we can come up with new ideas and actually get stuff done.
And I know I’m sounding all “let’s just live in harmony, and love each other, and who cares about right and wrong?” but don’t misunderstand me. Just because multiple points of view exist doesn’t meant that you have to stand behind all of them. I don’t think people should not have defined opinions… I just think we should all take note of a quote from my good friend Aristotle:
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
Don’t worry about being close-minded, you can refuse to accept a thought, but entertain it for a bit. Sit down, and have a glass of something with it. Wrestle with it. Look at all sides of it. Dress it up and make it pretty, and then say “hey, I get that you exist, but you’re not for me” and send it on it’s way.
Your opinion may be the right one, for you if nothing else. But be willing to entertain someone else’s.
Because I know you are an educated mind.