An opinion on opinions
Brandon North, Contributing Writer
October 11, 2013
Filed under Opinions
Having written a few opinion pieces, I’ve become reflective about what it is I’m actually doing in composing these arguments. And so I’d like to take an opportunity to discuss what it takes to have an opinion (surely it’s more than just having a certain choice body part).
In the United States we’re taught that simply making a choice is inherently a good thing, regardless of how well informed it is. Culturally, this makes things dualistic: we’re either pro-choice or pro-life, atheist or believe in God, Democrat or Republican. But these delineations are counterproductive—why can’t one believe in the option of abortion while still going to a Christian church and voting for an Independent?
The answer is that they can, but many choose not to because choosing from black and white is far easier than not.
Here’s where my own definition of having an opinion comes in. To have a valid opinion, one that others can actually consider in relation to themselves too, I think one needs to acknowledge that yes or no answers are not possible in expression, but only in acceptance.
For example, if I express that an omnipotent God exists, if I announce to the world that ‘yes’ this is in fact truth, then I have expressed a belief because I’ve accepted an answer before looking for one in the expression.
Opinions are not beliefs, not yes or no statements because they seek validity from outside of the person expressing the idea. A belief, on the other hand, does not require anyone to acknowledge its validity beyond the person who believes it.
To be clear, essentially I see opinions as social formulations of personal beliefs. It’s a nuanced difference, but what I’m arguing is that to have an opinion one must express their beliefs in such a way that they can be challenged—not merely accepted or denied. Based on this argument, refusing to argue your opinion indicates you don’t challenge your own beliefs.
But I still can’t stop you if you choose to believe that opinions are like a certain choice body part.