Opinions are scary.
Opinions aren’t scary in an obvious way, in which I might be afraid to tell you what my favorite color is, or a way in which I’d quake at being asked, “What is your favorite book?” But our opinions shape the lens through which we view the world, and when those thoughts and feelings come into conflict with others’, it soon becomes a question as to whether or not we ought to hold our tongue.
In modern day, many of us are acutely aware of the sensibilities of the people around us, people who come from different places and have seen different things and often think very differently from what we believe we know.
What can we do then, when we know the tension behind sensitive subjects, and are asked to weigh in on the matter?
I recall an instance in an English course I took last semester. The class was covering a unit on literary criticism on the basis of gender identity and sexuality. A couple of weeks wore on, wading our way through articles with all sorts of new (or familiar) ideas, before one student nervously remarked that they were never sure what to say or write, because they didn’t know much about the matter and wasn’t sure how they felt about it.
In some sense I wonder if it is right to have a healthy amount of apprehension. By all means we have the ability to do and say what we like, but consequences will follow, good or bad.
Just spouting the first thing that comes to mind isn’t typically the wisest, even though I’m sure it’s happened to all of us at least once in our lives.
We’re always going to be limited by how much we know; that doesn’t stop us from thinking about the matter. The best I can reason, however, is that fear shouldn’t stop us from talking about it (respectfully, of course). Otherwise, that fear keeps us not only from telling what we think is right but from learning about all the other different perspectives.
I think it’s important to remember that we’re not stuck with an opinion once we say it. If we were, everything I’ve vouched for thus far would get us nowhere. We should never be afraid to form our own opinion, or just as importantly, to reform it. Once words leave our mouth we are only as limited to them as we allow ourselves to be; it’s okay to learn and grow.
Opinions are scary not only because of how they affect us, but because of how they affect the world as a whole. Be smart, but don’t hold back, because the ideas that drive us drive the society we live in, shaping our future. You know, and all that other dramatic stuff.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily of The Torch.