Opinions are like traffic accidents. When one occurs, it slows down a population of people who are trying to go forward because the other group is too busy looking back to witness the fiery carnage.
We want to know who is hurt and who is not. We want to know whose fault it is. We can be quite nosey, you know. And yet, without any details or truth, we’ll immediately say to ourselves, “Oh, it was that guy’s fault! He was in the wrong!”
While I do not think that opinions are inherently bad, I do think that we are living in a culture and a society that all too often takes opinions as truth.
With opinions wrapped up in proper context of facts, figures and history, we can come to proper, reasonable conclusions regarding faith, life, culture, community, and politics. We can actually help people and give people constructive criticism with the proper use of opinion. Even opinions that are disagreeable can be disagreed to respectfully. Of course opinions packaged in prejudice, vitriol and hatred are more difficult to receive. And though we live in a country where opinions are a part of free speech, we are not excused from the hurt, harm and danger that it could cause. And yet, a soft answer can turn away wrath.
Words are powerful. They can uplift even the most depressed person. But words also have the ability to strike down a person, leveling their self-esteem and reaching even the core of their psyche and their identity.
If you tell a child long enough that they are a failure, they’ll start to believe it. All too often, I’ve found opinions locking people into a state of anxiety, fear, frustration, anger and bitterness.
We care more and more about what people think rather than about what people do. We even twist that logic itself to make it fit our own pride and prejudice.
Could it be that public opinion is gaining so much more traction than the truth because we give opinion more weight? We pay for opinions. We hunt for opinions. We spend hours upon hours digesting opinions. We have a hunger for the viewpoint of another human being who is not even living our life. The culture has become wrapped up in ideological idolatry, a people hoping that our point of view wins the day because we believe it is wrapped up in a little more truth than the truth of our opponents.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can embrace truth. We must embrace truth. In the scriptures, Jesus says “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
But imagine if we lived in truth. If we lived in truth, we would have to admit that we are not gods after all. If we lived in the truth, we would have to admit that we do not have it all together. If we lived in truth, we would actually have to humble ourselves, let loose the sin of pride, and welcome one another with grace, mercy and love.
But, I get it. The truth can hurt. The truth stings at first. The truth can be utterly inconvenient. The truth can feel like we’re being taken apart. It could feel like, to the person whose not used to truth, a robbery. It feels like someone or something is trying to take away what belongs to you. The truth does exactly what it is supposed to do … it exposes. But opinions like to put our most humanistic, self-centered fantasies and ideas on display rather than give truth its proper due. The truth is costly. It takes more time to find the truth, get it right the first time, and be factual and honest then it is to simply blurt out an opinion based on feelings. It takes more time to get to know a group on one side of a city than it does to turn on the TV and hear and see the reports. It takes more time to know your neighbor than it does to log on to Instagram or Twitter. It takes more time to develop relationships with people you don’t know than it does to judge them. It takes a kind of work that we can’t afford to skip out of and a heart that must be converted!
Opinions could be a good thing. But let us first get more acquainted in the truth before we opine over matters that require the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.