In my fairly brief lifetime, I’ve come across some fairly abysmal and horrifying opinions. I’ve been told to ignore the opinions that don’t align with mine, and I’ve also been told to listen to each opinion. I know people with who believe that listening to other opinions is akin to poison, but I’ve never understood why. To me, differing opinions can open doors to new and insightful conversation. And just because a new opinion is given audience, it doesn’t mean that the listener must agree with it…or else.
Also, the person giving the new opinion should be just as interested in your opinion as their own. Too many times have I seen arguments break out where it’s clear that only one person truly cares about listening to the other person. All too often, the other person just spouts their opinion in a way that makes it seem they didn’t even hear (or read) the other person’s comment. What is accomplished by this? It seems that these conversations just run around in circles. The people who don’t listen to other opinions could be missing out on a great learning opportunity. They could also be missing out on an opportunity to state their opinion in a way that will be beneficial to the listener.
At my university, I helped run a student organization that asked difficult questions to open discussion. Some of these discussions were written down publicly and anonymously (unless you were seen writing your comment, of course) and some of them were in person. The opinions represented were generally varied and made for an interesting conversation. However, we always had critics. They generally thought that we were either wasting our time (no change would come from the little people like us), or they expressed that talking about things only makes them worse. But I don’t think so. I think that discussion is necessary–especially on a university campus. Sometimes, the discussions were great examples of how to present an opinion and value that of the other person. That is what discussions should be like. Valued. They should never end with hard feelings, but they should get you and the other person thinking.
If everyone agreed on the same thing or if no one stood up for what they believed in (unless the world was perfect, but it isn’t now), the world would probably fall into some sort of scary dystopian bandwagon where differing opinions were few and far between. It would be easier for people to be taken advantage of, and intellectual growth would be slim. I’m not saying that’s going to happen (or is even realistic), but I do believe that opinions matter. More than that, I believe that the ability to not only have your opinion matters, but I believe that the ability to state and have a dialogue where both opinions are valued is essential.
But of course, this is just my opinion. I’m not an expert, and I would be hypocritical not to welcome discussion. So feel free to comment with your opinions.