I was very politely but in a condescending manner told to keep my opinion to myself. I found this funny as it was coming from someone who has voiced their opinion repeatedly. The difference being that person feels their opinion is wonderful and not really opinion but fact and feels that my opinion is damaging or will damage people. Opinions are just that opinions. They are not fact at all, they are someone’s beliefs. Opinions can be based on fact, experience, others experience, knowledge, information and ignorance. The one thing they hold in common is they aren’t fact no matter how much you would like them to be. I mean really if an opinion were fact it wouldn’t be called an opinion now would it be.
Here is the official definition of opinion as it relates to this scenario:
1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
I decided that I needed to write this piece because it is important that people know the difference between opinion and fact. I believe it is also important for people to listen to others opinion. You would think that people do know the difference but after years of dealing with the mass general public and now more recently being here dealing with a variety of different people it is clear that not all people do understand.
It was stated that my opinion can be damaging. The fact is, to me, my opinion can’t really be damaging at all, no one’s can because it is mere opinion. You would have to hold true that people routinely accept others opinion’s as fact in order to believe they can do damage. The problem we have is that too many people are doing just that so although her statement is not true, it can be true on some level. I understand her fears but I am not typical when it comes to stating my opinion. Had she really taken the time to listen to what I was saying and how I was expressing my opinion she would have come to that realization but she was so adamant to have her opinion believed to be fact and held as the standard that she didn’t really listen. I find that to be damaging.
I did take pause and consider what she said, had I not I wouldn’t be writing this. I value opinions especially opposing opinions because of the potential they have to expose me to something I may have never otherwise been exposed. If we take the time to listen to others opinions and hear their views we can sometimes learn from them. We don’t have to agree with their opinion or even like their opinion but we should listen to their opinion. I find it awfully wrong to say to anyone, your opinion has potential for damage so keep it to yourself. What one person determines potentially damaging could be the information another person needs to put something in a perspective they had never been exposed to.
I think information is amazing and I think we should try to be informed people, especially as parents. We are raising the next generation so why limit ourselves to our own experiences when we could expose ourselves to experiences of others that we never even thought of or thought of considering at all solely because we didn’t know those other experiences existed. Which brings me back to the question: Is she right that some opinions shouldn’t be expressed due to potential harm?
In my opinion, I don’t think she is right. The world is not full of rainbows and unicorns, everything doesn’t turn out all right in the end and happily ever after is for fairy tales. We need to know about the opposing views and opinions. We need to know what exist out there beyond our experiences. Our children need to be taught that life is not just about the small little island we are raised on and that there is a much bigger world out there. Children and adults need to know that everyone doesn’t see the world the same way and that is OK.
If everyone with an opposing view is told to be quiet then we will never hear anything at all. We will be confined to our little islands of experiences and knowledge and largely remain ignorant to the world around us. We need to share our opinions and listen to others opinions no matter how infuriating they may be to us personally. We never have to agree but we should always listen. Even messages of hate can be beneficial in allowing us to understand their hatred and where it comes from. It could provide an opportunity to have them listen to our opinions and see a different perspective because we did listen to their opinions even though we fervently disagree and wish their opinions didn’t exist the way they do.
The other problem I am having is this overriding sense that one person’s opinion is more valuable or more important or the standard by which everyone should see things. Just the nature of what an opinion is tells us that we can’t put one opinion above another. Neither are fact nor should they be setting the standard for anyone else. We need to take opinions, no matter who they come from, as just opinions. Even the experts, who if you have been following me you know I don’t hold much stock in, are giving opinions. Their opinions are based more on facts and research into a particular subject but they are still just a conclusion based on the way they see the facts and research. Someone else might read the same facts and research and come to a different conclusion. Both conclusions are opinions and valuable to be heard but neither opinion is fact. That is one of the reasons I detest when people point to the experts as having all the answers. They are experts at researching their subject and understanding their subject but at the end of the day, they are drawing conclusions and presenting their opinions.
That is the real problem we face today. People feel the need to have their opinions and their beliefs to be the most important ones and the ones everyone should subscribe to like they are sage wisdom steeped in fact that need to be passed down. I don’t hold my opinion in such high regard. Actually, I don’t hold anyone’s opinion in such high regard. Our opinions are limited by us. Our opinions are based on our experience, our thoughts, our beliefs, our practices, our upbringing and our exposure to the world. No matter how worldly you may think yourself to be, no one knows it all or has experienced it all. Even the experts are relaying their opinion although they like you to believe it is fact solely due to their “expert” status.
As parents, we should always be asking the hard questions of ourselves. Are we doing what is best? Is there a better way? Should we stick to the status quo or majority view solely because it is the status quo or majority view? Does an opposing view have some merit that maybe we haven’t considered? Are we limiting our children to the world we want to exist or exposing them to the world that does exist? These are important questions we should be asking ourselves as parents.
This entire site is based on my opinions and my experiences. I started it to give other parents the opportunity to see and share other experiences that they might not otherwise even thought about or considered. I don’t want a group of people that will solely come and agree with me. I would rather you disagree, voice your opinion and share why you hold the opinion you do. In the last few days there have been some women who have shared their experiences and opinions about breastfeeding in public that I hadn’t considered because I had never experienced it in the same way they had. I respect those opinions and learned something new from those opinions even though their opinions were different from mine. I can’t say that they changed my overall opinion but they gave me a perspective and a better understanding and did change my opinion to some extent.
Since starting this site, I decided to do two things differently from most other sites.
I felt forcing people to register just to express their view was contrary to what I was trying to accomplish. As a user of forums myself; I, at times, have had a view I was going to post but then ran into a lengthy registration process or a requirement to connect with Facebook or some other account of mine. All I wanted to do was make a post, I didn’t necessarily want to belong to the site or be on their mailing list or get their newsletters. I don’t want to be forced to belong to a group I don’t generally agree with. I don’t want to be associated with a group I generally disagree with. I can listen to your views without having to join your group. When that would happen I would just not post. Not because I thought what I had to post wasn’t valuable but because I didn’t like being forced to belong to a group or be associated with a group I generally disagree with just to express my opinion or hear their opinion.
I don’t fault sites that have this as a requirement because it is their site and they are entitled to run it the way they see fit. It is good to have registered users but I felt I would rather have a site that is as inclusive as possible and allow for all types of views to be presented. Every view is important, even the ones we detest could have some value to someone else. People should be allowed to express their views without having to associate themselves with the group itself just to do so. WordPress requires an email so the email requirement is there. I have a little math captcha to combat the spam and it works quite well. This way even people who detest my views in general can still voice their opinion without feeling they have to join my group that they know holds views they detest.
Second, I don’t in general delete comments or post. Moderation is turned on just for post that contain a lot of links and that is more for the safety of everyone than to keep opposing views out. I don’t need someone linking to 20 porn sites and trust me they tried. I am not even against porn but that isn’t what the site is about. I do have a program that filters out the spam and rarely does it catch legitimate post. I have had some pretty nasty comments made about me, others and views in general. So far I have only refused one comment because I found the link to photos of children who had been beaten and the way the photos being portrayed wasn’t beneficial. It is my site and that is my right. The same commentator posted another comment that I disagree with heavily but I don’t want to limit the information people get. I want to put out as much information as possible to help and support parents and people in general in making choices, even if the choice is not the one I would make.
At the end of the day, this is my website and I get to run it any way I see fit. I get to express my opinions regardless of how anyone else feels about them. At the same time, I allow others to do the same thing, regardless of how I feel about their views. We don’t have to agree or even like other people’s views and opinions but we should allow them to exist and not try to stamp out anything that is different from what we believe. You never know, you might get something invaluable from a view that you completely disagree with. You might get a better understanding of why another person holds the views they do. There might be views that are held out of ignorance and the opportunity is there to give them the information to allow them to form an informed view about a subject. We don’t need to put one view above another or deem one opinion is better than all others because the fact is we are limited by our own experiences. Our view may be perfect for us and our experiences and our little piece of the world but that doesn’t mean it is perfect or right for everyone else’s experiences or their little piece of the world.
When I was 15, a boy got mad at me for something, I don’t even remember what exactly, but I was trying to change his views and put mine above his. He replied, “This is my world and you are just in it.” That has stuck with me ever since. He was right it was his world and I was just in it. He didn’t have to do things my way and if I didn’t like it I could stay out of his world. I don’t have to do what you do, I don’t have to agree with what you do and I don’t have to be responsible for what you do. This is my world and it is what I am responsible for. I get to make my own choices about my world and at the same time I am solely responsible for the choices I make. I choose to listen to other opinions and allow them to exist in my world because I find it beneficial in expanding my world. If you don’t feel that way then stay in your own world and stay out of mine because I will allow all views to be presented. I won’t try to force you to run your little piece of the world the way I do and at the same time I won’t allow you to try and force me to run my little piece of the world the way you want me to.
This is my world and you are just in it. I will respect you do things differently, view things differently and make different choices. I will voice my opinion and listen to others. I will engage in debates and try to learn as much as I can to expand my world. I will seek change in others to make my world better based on my views and at the same time recognize that maybe I need to change in order to make my world better. I will not hush and be quiet because someone feels that my opinion is worthless to them or they think it is damaging. My opinion can only cause damage by being shut down, not by being expressed. It is damaging to exclude opinions solely because you disagree or you dislike them. Information is incredible and the more we share and learn about life experiences and different views of the world, the better we are as a people and a world. Keeping people ignorant of any opposing view is what is truly damaging.
Of course this is all just my opinion 😉