“Everyone is entitled to his opinion.” Oh, how many times I’ve heard that expression! Sometimes it’s a matter-of fact statement. Usually it’s a snide way of saying, “I disagree with you.”
What is this thing called an opinion that everyone has a right to possess? To get the ball rolling, here are a few opinions about opinions.
“Opinions are the cheapest commodities in the world.” — Author Unknown
“Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect.” — Herbert Spencer (1820 – 1903)
“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously…. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” — Jane Austen
Opinions are beliefs based on imperfect and incomplete information. Opinions can be a good-faith effort at understanding and stating the truth. They can also be an emotional shield from inconvenient and painful truths. An opinion tends to be empowered by the reputation of the opinion holder as well as the number of people subscribing to it. Opinions are always colored by personal bias. All of these thoughts imply there is a qualitative aspect about every opinion. Bad opinions can be life-threatening — good opinions can be life-changing. Life’s challenge for us, individually and collectively, is to sort the good opinions from the bad ones.
“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.” — Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)
“We are so vain that we even care for the opinion of those we don’t care for.” — Marie Ebner von Eschenbach
“A fellow can’t keep people from having a bad opinion of him, but he can keep them from being right about it.” — Unknown
“Patterning your life around other’s opinions is nothing more than slavery.” — Lawana Blackwell, The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark, 1999
“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 – 1902)
So, as we seek to evaluate the quality of our own opinions and those of others, there are some things to consider.
“Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.” — Horace Mann (1796 – 1859)
“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.” — Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)
“The man who never alters his opinions is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” — William Blake (1757 – 1827)
“An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.” — Jef Mallett
“Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth, or the only truth.” — Charles A. Dana (1819 – 1897)
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” — John F. Kennedy
To my way of thinking, unsolicited opinions can be the worst kind.
“It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.” — Ayn Rand
To preempt your guilt pangs from offering unsolicited opinions I will close by inviting your comments.
© Copyright July 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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