Monday, November 14, 2005

Your Opinions

Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth, or the only truth.
Charles A. Dana, 1819-1897
American Newspaper Editor

Our opinions have to be balanced carefully. Imagining them to be any more or any less important than anyone else's is a road that leads nowhere. One signals an over-inflated ego. The other signals low self-esteem. And without control, an unbalanced opinion can do damage that takes years to repair.
I used to dread even having an opinion; it seemed not worth the trouble, when every word I said was a possible invitation for a verbal attack. After just a few oral assaults, I learned not to say what I really felt about anything.
Words not spoken piled up, building walls I stayed hidden behind for years. When all of that stunted space was filled, I learned to care about less. I gave up, with much relief, my human right to draw a conclusion and do something based on my own thought processes. Caring about anything only gave another weapon to someone who seemed intent on my destruction.
I came as close to being totally dead inside that any person can without being a zombie. The thoughts that exploded inside my mind on October 30, 1993 saved my life, reclaimed my brain, and changed my value of both his opinion and my own. My low self-esteem went to war with his over-inflated ego, and I was armed with 20 years of unsaid words.
I suddenly gloried in having an opinion and voicing it. I never demanded that he adopt them as his own, but I did demand that he allow me to state them, without punishment. I was very aware of how each person comes to conclusions from their own unique vantage point and I was interested in trading views, when we shared opinions. And more often than not, once that was done, our opinions were close enough to quickly compromise somewhere in the middle.