Class of We Made It

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.

15 comments

  1. I read your post and I thought your comment on that question was understandable and I even agreed with it to a degree before I saw the comment in reply. I think OM just saw the question from a different perspective. You took his rebuff very well. I am not sure I would have been as receptive as you were.

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    1. Thanks, Tric. I always try to give myself a little time to think about someone else’s POV so I can respond instead of react. 20 years ago, not so much. 😉

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      1. I thought I would let you know that my post wasn’t actually towards you. It was to a commenter on a thread I made who claimed that only spoken opinion can be surpressed. I liked your post, but you know that already I think. 🙂

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      2. 😉 See you on Project O.

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      3. I’m SO excited about that. And thank you so much for including me and reblogging. This has been one heck of a ride. You have no idea what you created. I am forever in your blogging debt.

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      4. No debts, I hope we all get to be a part of something special. 🙂

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  2. Many times when we look for what people are feeling rather than saying, we find the truth behind what they say.

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    1. Yes, and truthfully, that’s been difficult for me in the past. I think it will now be a little easier, a little safer, and make me a little more compassionate.

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  3. navigator1965 · ·

    Susan,

    It appears that I’m a Project O person too. You posts seem to exude a degree of inner peace, which is so pleasant to encounter. Thank you.

    Like you, I left a major formal religion, but not belief, nor sight of what mattered and what did not.

    While very much a New Testament person, the story of Elisha and Elijah has had a powerful influence upon me. In this spirit, permit me to pass along one thought based upon some of your post material.

    Whenever someone has a habit of trying to shame others, you are likely dealing with someone afflicted with narcissism. Narcissists can be excruciatingly sensitive to even the slightest exposure to deep unconscious shame. Seemingly trivial things can drive them into a rage.

    When they try to make another feel ashamed or guilty, what they are doing is “projecting” their own unconscious shame onto to you, to rid them of their own unconscious pain.

    It can be a great challenge to forgive a narcissist and love him or her unconditionally, as their unrelenting emotional pain causes them to frequently hurt others.

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    1. Thank you for that. And yes, the older I get, the less I tend to judge. I think I’m just way more aware of my own sins. I’ve found an inner peace that I only could have found as a follower of Jesus.

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  4. It is funny, because even though I might not used those exact words, I felt the same way you did. And I too saw it as my short commings. I look forward to reading your submission.
    http://www.ourpersonaljourney.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you, John, and back ‘atcha.

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  5. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    I can only hope others viewed my post in the same way. This deserved a reblog, not a comment. Thank you. -OM

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    1. You are humbly welcome.

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