Only form opinions with proper information
Several weeks ago, near the beginning of the spring 2017 semester, I made what was perhaps a silly decision. I signed up to write an opinion piece for The Eagle newspaper and promptly forgot about it. Months passed. Classes were attended, homework was assigned and completed, meals were prepared and eaten, books and newspapers were read, Netflix was watched, chores were done. I…existed. And as I existed, the due date of my opinion piece only grew closer.
Now here I am at the zero hour, trying to have an articulate, intelligent, educated opinion about…something. Anything.
A few years ago, I had an opinion on pretty much everything, and lived to realize that most of those opinions were misinformed, or were the result of my ego showing through. Today, though, I sit at my “computer desk” (a.k.a., a wooden TV tray I inherited from my mother), waiting for a fountain of witty rhetoric to suddenly burble from my fingertips. I am quietly ignoring the fact that lately, I do my best to not have any strongly-held opinions at all.
It seems, in my opinion, that it is impossible to have an opinion without 1.) being married to it and 2.) defending it vehemently. Perhaps this is a new phenomenon, or perhaps we have always been this way, and I have been too sheltered and privileged to have seen it before.
Whatever the reasons, I often find myself in a situation where I have seen only the points of view that are screamed the loudest by the angriest people and am too unsure of the truth to form a concrete opinion on a topic.
I feel that the majors I have studied in school have something to do with my opinions on opinions.
When I was still a science major, I learned to pursue only what I can back up with evidence.
As a communications major, I have learned that humans are diverse and many of the things we defend, as if they were absolute facts, are subjective, the products of culture and community and circumstance combining within a human mind.
On one hand, I am grateful to both of these courses of study for broadening my understanding and for giving me an appreciation for objectivity and facts. On the other hand, I now feel uncomfortable writing an opinion piece, because having a strong opinion has become difficult for me. In my opinion, having a casual opinion is not currently in favor, and having a strong opinion means defending it even when you do not know for sure if it is reasonable.
Allow me to make one thing perfectly clear: I don’t wish to be weak, two-faced, lazy, or useless, and I certainly don’t want to be silent about things that, to my observations, matter. I want to be reasonable, and I want to be fair. I hope to approach situations with an attitude that allows me to look at all of the differing points of view objectively, rather than only listening for the words and phrases that match my own biases.
It is my opinion that I have a duty to be observant, to do my best to look around me for evidence and truth while also acknowledging that I am a person with a limited view of the world. There are so many things to learn and so many reasons to listen—in my opinion. And that is only an opinion.