The Right to Opinion
This week, I was asked to participate in a survey about opinion. The responses will be posted on the requestor’s blogsite, Harsh Reality. My hope in participating was to broaden my own scope of reality, to understand a wider perspective, and open my own eyes to my limited understanding of what drives my own opinions.
That began the moment I submitted my survey. Harsh Reality hit me between the eyes like an arrow piercing the center of a bullseye. And while my first reaction was, “Wow, did you have to be so…well, harsh?” my ultimate response was, “Great wake-up call.”
One of the questions on the survey was, “What does the right to an opinion mean to you? Is it essential to freedom to have this right? How far would you go to protect that ability? The world is on fire with people of passion, how passionate are you about things you value?”
My response to this was lengthy, but part of it was, Before I respond, I will toss a few questions back at you. Is having an opinion innate? Does the right to voice an opinion come with responsibilities? Do our rights and freedoms stop when they bump into someone else’s rights and freedoms? If you are passionate about a value that opposes a value about which I feel passion, how do we learn to voice those opinions in a civil, respectful, honorable way?
Now, admittedly, my response comes from a uniquely American perspective. One that has seen and heard my share of shouting heads and is pretty much sick of them. In fact, I consider them bullies. As a more left-leaning Christian, I am uniquely aware of the struggle to honor my own calling to follow the words of Jesus rather than the “rules,” to give grace and mercy rather than to chastise or exclude. I work hard at seeing another point of view.
So when I saw a new post from Opinionated Man called My Rant: Project O, I had to read it. I don’t know if he was talking about my survey, but it did sound slightly familiar.
He said, in part, “I have been overwhelmed by the response to Project O thus far. I hope this project will inspire and show why the right to an opinion is so important. Why we should never forget how great it is that we have this right, a right that not everyone in this world is entitled to or dare I say even knows about. A commenter said ‘but don’t you mean the right to express an opinion? Because don’t we all have the right to opinions even if we never say them?”
No, I am not talking about the expression of an opinion. In North Korea kids are born every day into slave camps. This happens all over the world in less defined boundaries, but I can tell you for certain that in North Korea you are born without the right to an opinion. You are never taught what one is and every day you witness those that dare to defy the rules being punished, tortured, and killed. You never taste the freedom of an opinion.”
I left out the part where he swore at us to open our f***ing minds.
After reading his rant, instead of taking offense at his not-so civil, respectful or honorable plea, I became open to his passion about it. I saw the harsh reality of it. I heard the truth in it.
And I understood that in his deep desire to change my thinking was a profound compassion for people who cannot fathom –in their minds, in their hearts, in the core of their being – that they could be a person loved and conceived by God to hold an opinion. An intangible idea about their own lives and destiny. About the wind or a bird or their family…or freedom.
So thank you for the wake-up call. Thank you for the harsh reality and for your passion. Thank you for changing this heart and this mind today.