My Opinion of Your Opinion

Yes, I do have an opinion of your opinion. That might not seem fair. After all, I don’t know you. Do we agree on any subjects? Do we not? How could I know? The only thing I know about your opinions is that they are opinions. That’s enough for me to start.

I have certain opinions on certain subjects that are universal to all things within that subject. That includes the realm of opinions. No matter what opinions you hold, I have some perspectives on your opinions that not everyone shares. In fact, some of my opinions of opinions run contrary to the opinions of opinions that are common. That’s worth blogging about isn’t it? At least I might get in a little clever wordplay.

Opinions of your opinions are common place, I’m sure. People who manage to hear your opinions will immediately form opinions of your opinions, and the only thing that makes mine different is that I haven’t heard your opinions. I am completely unfamiliar with your opinions. That might, in your opinion, make my opinion unfair. Then again, you haven’t heard my opinion of your opinion yet.

There are some well known and worn out clichés that apply to any and all opinions, including yours. For example, after hearing a dissenting opinion, it’s common for someone to say, “Well, he’s entitled to his opinion.” Quite often, the dissenter will defend his opinion with that simple ideology. “I am entitled to my opinion.” Or, “Everyone has a right to his opinion.”

See, that’s where my opinion of opinions differs from the socially acceptable model. My opinion of your opinion has something in common with my opinion of my own opinion. Yes, I have considered my opinion of my own opinions, both individually and as a group of unprovable thoughts. This next sentence might shock those of unswervingly traditional point of view. I am NOT entitled to my opinion. Knowing that, or at least believing it fiercely, I can tell you that If I’m not entitled to mine, then you’re not entitled to yours.

Entitled. That’s one of my least favorite words. It might get a bad rap since there are certain things that people are entitled to. Inalienable rights, as it were. On the other hand, your rights are not entitlements. Not in my opinion anyway. There’s a big difference between the things that are intrinsic to human nature and human dignity that must be protected and fought for, and those other things that that should be granted to you by others, such as a respect for your ability to form an intelligent, worthy opinion.

Entitlement is a terrible position. If I were to scrape it off the floor, scrub it with all the morality, decency, wisdom and fortitude I have ever encountered in the best of the human species, then molded it into a wonderful form designed to appeal to the most universal sense of aesthetics, it still wouldn’t be worth anything. To put it another way, no matter how you sanitize and sculpt it, feces remains feces, and so does entitlement.

People tend to revile a sense of entitlement when they encounter it in others. So why would we allow for entitlement in regards to something as important as opinion? “Well, it’s just an opinion.” As though opinion isn’t worth much. “My humble opinion,” is a common phrase, as though any opinion, once voiced could be humble. The only truly humble opinions are known only to their owners. I almost feel sorry for those unvoiced opinions, kept quiet in their shady little mental corners. Then again, I feel it’s safe to assume that opinions that are not aired for public consumption probably deserve their corners. Go ahead and keep them there in pointy hats. Apart from these sheltered corner opinions though, our perspectives, assessments and assumptions are not humble, and they are not valueless. Not even yours, and that’s another opinion of your opinion.

When people look at the world, much of it is observable fact. The rest is opinion, and I daresay that the realm of opinion is much broader and deeper than the realm of fact. Within the realm of opinion reside all things philosophical, most things religious (and that applies even if you are a devout believer), and nearly all things political. Our opinions matter. The way we see the world, the ideas we share, our judgments, they matter not only to the person holding the opinion, but also to all other people who could be affected by it. If you ever vote, take part in any business, share experiences in art or literature (no matter if it’s lofty or lowbrow), then you have opinions that are important.

If your opinions are important, and they are, then you are not entitled to them. You are instead responsible for them. Oh, what a heavy sentence to lay on anonymous reader. You are not entitled, even to your own opinions. You have an obligation, both to yourself and others, to do your utmost to arrive at the best and truest of all possible opinions. What’s more, even after you have a carefully considered opinion, you have the obligation to reconsider it constantly, whenever it is challenged, and as often as possible, even when it is not.

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are responsible for it. Imagine a world ruled by that cliché. What if everyone employed responsibility instead of entitlement to their ideas? I am a very opinionated man. Hard to argue with. I do listen to other opinions though, and I consider them carefully. Because I am responsible for my opinion. Try to be responsible for yours.

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