Do you have a right to your opinion?

Do you have a right to your opinion?

Let me give you my opinion…

Who am I?

Who am I to talk about self-improvement… I’m not always happy, I ain’t got 6 pack abs, my relationships aren’t the healthiest, and I’m more like a hundred-air.

Who am I to talk about history, politics, psychology, philosophy… I don’t have a P.H.D?

I’m a 20-something white male.

Anthony, you’re too young! Who are you to know about life?

Anthony, you’re too white! Who are you to know about struggle?

Anthony, you’re too male! Who are you to know about pain?

And my natural reaction might be to get defensive or stomp away crying, but ultimately for democracy to work: the message must matter more than the messenger.

Democracy should be an idea meritocracy where our best ideas rise to the top by pushing up against each other. It’s an intellectual dance.

This requires a have faith in our own inner ability to reason and think.

And if we feel like we’re uninformed, then as citizens, we have a moral responsibility to get informed.

How do we know when we’re informed?

When we can articulate the other side’s position equally or better than the other side. If we cannot empathize with the other side’s position then we should listen before we want to be heard.

But too many people don’t take the time to understand the message.

They rather attack the messenger…

1. because it’s easier…

To understand requires listening and studying. It’s far easier to enjoy the sweet taste of certainty by beating you over the head with it.

2. because of insecurity…

“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.” — Marcus Aurelius

It’s an interesting paradox.

The people who are most certain are often the least educated.

“The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” — Arnold H. Glasow

Instead of having strong opinions weakly held, people often have weak opinions strongly held. It’s because the opinion is not actually the person’s opinion. They haven’t actually done the work to analysis it. They’re just a mouthpiece for someone else’s opinion they admire. It could be the opinion of a family member, celebrity, or an entire group they identify with.

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” — Oscar Wilde

And so in conversing they may subconsciously think,

“Who is Anthony Galli to know better than B̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶O̶’̶R̶e̶i̶l̶l̶y̶ Sean Hannity? or my father? or my Aunt Sally? I can’t quite articulate a counter-argument to Anthony right now because politics isn’t my thing, but I know he must be wrong because if he was right then that would question my team’s authority, which could throw me into an existential crisis because I’d then have to start thinking for myself in evaluating positions instead of just blindly following my team.”

Now there are certain advantages to appealing to an authority, for example, if your doctor comes in and says you have cancer you’re not going to say he is wrong, but then again you would at least ask for a second opinion.

We get multiple opinions for our bodily health, maybe we should do the same for the body politic.

Get a second opinion

Appreciation for differing opinions leads to less hate in the heart, but on the flip side, there is a reason why people hate.

Self-righteous indignation makes us feel powerful, confident, smart, and motivated.

“People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions to be destroyed.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

To test if our opinion is truly our own we should ask ourselves, “Who do I agree with the most? And what do I disagree with them on?”If you can’t come up with any disagreement then you relinquished your greatest power, reason, to a higher authority. This is the root of tyranny.

Remember: “The world was made by people no smarter than you.”

So do I have a right to my opinion?

No, I don’t have a right, I have a responsibility. We have an obligation as citizens to express our opinion. We don’t need permission or a certificate.

And in expressing our opinion we’ll develop more empathy with where we could be wrong because every position has its pros and cons, and depending on our values we may weigh those pros and cons differently, but that doesn’t mean my set of values are objectively correct and yours are incorrect.

You may believe in a more growth-centric economy and I may believe in a more equality-centric economy. You’re not a nazi and I’m not a communist.

And ultimately don’t attack the messenger because what is popular opinion today will someday be unpopular… just like the music we listen to.

Let’s dance. Leave a comment.


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