The French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher, Voltaire, once said, “Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes.” Former frontman of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, said, “We have no right to express an opinion until we know all of the answers.” This then begs the question, “When does our opinion matter?”.
Let me pause for a second and remind all of you that my blog focuses on subjects that I contemplate, wrestle with, and am growing through. I have been known to state an opinion or two on social media platforms. What you will read are personal thoughts and reflections about the question stated in the title. This blog then is a dichotomy, as I am stating an opinion about when our opinions matter. Okay, back to the topic at hand.
With platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc., opinions are freely expressed at any time from anywhere. I believe Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best when he said, “There are as many opinions as there are experts.” Opinions seem to be as numerous as the stars, but the problem is that opinions are just that, opinion. If you Google the definition of “opinion”, you will read, “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.” I think the last part of this definition should be read again, “NOT necessarily based on fact or knowledge.” But for some reason, we seem to take opinion as fact, or we believe that our opinions ARE fact. Because of this thinking, we are living in a world where opinions outweigh facts.
We also seem to put a lot of weight on other people’s opinions. Chinese philosopher and writer, Lao Tzu, said, “Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.” Why do we give so much authority to other people’s opinions? Should their opinions matter? I think Facebook is a perfect example of people allowing other people’s opinions to have authority over their attitude and actions. It usually starts with someone posting an opinion that “offends” someone, and the offended person responds by throwing their opinion’s back. This then leads to a tirade on social media that has done nothing good and has shown more ignorance than understanding. Why do we let people’s opinions control our actions and reactions?
There is a saying that goes, “If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it.” Even though this is usually used in a derogatory manner, I believe it holds the key to when our opinions matter. As we all are aware, everyone has an opinion about everything. For example, everyone has opinions on Covid, vaccines, and mask mandates. Everyone has opinions on the current and past presidents. Everyone has opinions on religion, politics, etc. What’s even more is that people from all sides seem to share their opinion freely about these topics on social media websites. Some back their opinion up with “factual evidence”, while others seem to just share their opinion as if their opinions are fact. Either way, opinions are being shared, but do they matter?
I have learned that our opinion matters only when we are asked for it, or when we are standing for what we believe is right. However, our opinion doesn’t matter if we choose to speak our thoughts without having factual evidence to support our opinion. If we share our opinion because we need to share it, then we are showing ourselves to be ignorant and pompous. American essayist, lecturer, and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said it best: “People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”
Opinions are nothing more than emotional responses to what is happening around us. An opinion does not make us correct, our opinions do not make us all-knowing, and unless we construct our opinions on factual evidence and truth, our opinions show our ignorance more than anything else. Our opinions really don’t matter. We need to learn to close our mouths and open our ears. We need to stop thinking that our opinions matter as much as we think they do. We need to stop sowing discord and start learning how to listen, care, and attempt to understand one another. Does this mean we will always agree? Absolutely not. However, we need to learn to have respectful, knowledgeable, and open minded conversations. We need to stop throwing around our opinion like it’s God’s truth. We need to realize that our opinion doesn’t really matter all that much unless someone asks us to share it. Of course, all of this is just my opinion.
As always, stay humble and serve well!