Thursday, October 21, 2010

If I Wanted Your Opinion ….

… I’d give it to you.

So goes the phrase, often expressed and laughed over.

The only problem is … it’s not funny anymore.

I’ve found myself in a few interesting debates as of late, discussing some heated subjects with others.

What I have found interesting is that in many of these debates, there were a couple of things prevalent:

1. There was anger on the part of the other person (sometimes a lot more than the subject warranted)

2. There weren’t a whole lot of facts being used to defend the other person’s position, just the afore mentioned emotion.

I found this intriguing and puzzling (and frustrating, to be honest) to observe until one person finally enlightened me yesterday when he said:

You have no right to say this.

It finally hit me.

We weren’t taking opposite sides in the debate I thought I was participating in.

I was in fact, defending my right to have a contrary opinion at all.

I just didn’t realize it and hence I had brought the wrong facts to the table. 

Many cultures in the world have developed and flourished because of the open exchange of ideas.  Such exchanges are often passionate and sometimes anger filled as people agree and disagree.  However, we have always embraced the right to the exchange and we grow as a result of it.

When we lose the ability to explore all sides of something, when a particular side is automatically right “just because”, then one of the foundational elements of our culture is lost.

And as with any structure, when the foundation falls, the structure won’t stand for long.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi once told Americans that if they disagreed with national healthcare then they were un-American.

President Obama recently told a number of college students to stop paying attention to social media as the opinions being circulated around were creating too much confusion.

That is their opinion.

However, the truth is that your opinion matters also.

So does mine.

And when we embrace this belief, we embrace making something better.

Any idea that is properly debated will be stronger as a result of the vetting and exploration process.

I would rather my idea be made stronger through such a process or proven that it is a bad idea, so that I can abandon it before I waste too much of my time or someone else’s.

What do you think - do you agree or disagree?

Or do you think I’m not entitled to my opinion at all? :-)

In service and servanthood.


To see my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “If I Wanted Your Opinion …”, please click here.


  1. Couldn't agree more, Harry. Seems to me this has been growing problem/pattern over the last 15-20 years. Somewhere along the line, we lost our desire to even hear the other person's point of view. I find the trend disturbing and frightening, and I'm not sure how we reverse the trend in a world where people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher are paid millions of dollars a year to insult and belittle anyone with an opinion that disagrees with their own.

  2. Thanks for your kind comments, Jim.

    I would add Anne Coulter to that list, spreading misinformation and then bullying people who try to share the truth.

    The real challenge is not only the people at that level but the normal people at our level who are unable to conduct dialog anymore.

    When we lose the ability to dialog over things, I wonder what happens next ... I can't imagine it's all good.

    Take care and create a great day, Jim!