A few months ago I had a conversation with my husband that’s really been a catalyst of change in me. We were driving down the road discussing whatever recent disaster just happened in our country (it’s sad that there’s so much happening I can’t recall what event it was) and the conversation became pretty cerebral. It turned into talking about what solutions could work for what problems and kinda wringing our hands at the hopelessness of it all. I asked my husband, “if you had a microphone in your face and had to give your reason for why things have become so broken what would you say?”. He didn’t say anything for a minute or so and finally responded with “maybe we have placed too much value in having a right to an opinion”.
So my husband is brilliant and it would be so like him to respond like that. If you have had the pleasure of meeting him your impression likely is that he is one of the quietest people you have ever met and you’re not wrong in thinking that. He is often always the most quiet person in the room but it’s not because he’s disengaged. When he does talk it’s rarely about himself or what he thinks but rather asking questions and listening to what you think. I’m entirely the opposite; I love making people laugh, being the clown, sharing stories and discussing opinions about everything on this green earth that I’m sure it’s often viewed as being self absorbed. So when he does decide to say something you can be guaranteed that it’s worth listening to because it’s usually lacking the white noise of someone who speaks all the time. To sum him up he really does encompass the Godly trait of “being slow to speak and quick to listen”.
So back to that conversation we had that day. I’ve thought about it a lot since then and I think my husband is on to something. Now, I think it’s important to establish the difference between having a right to an opinion and being right in your opinion. You can feel that you are 100% on the right side of history in your views and air them all the live long day on social media and it’s your constitutional right to do that. But is it always right to express your opinion? When you have expressed your opinion how often have you seen a fruitful conversation happen as a result of it? When was the last time you stepped into a conversation with the intent of not just hammering out your view to heard but rather to learn about the opposing viewpoint?
It’s also worth considering how valuable your opinion is to you and if that value can carry out into the world around you. Does your opinion make you literally go out and do something for whatever the issue is that you so readily talk about? Has that last article you shared about how brokenhearted you are over the abortion law in New York resulted in you opening your home to adoption (seriously, on this note I will adopt your baby if you’re in this crisis)? Did your protesting for climate change cause you to stop drinking from straws, carpool to work and commit to shorter showers? If you’re outraged at the homeless crisis when was the last time you put your money where your outrage is?
I think that we’ve taken that saying of “Stand for something or fall for anything” to mean “have an opinion about everything and don’t do anything”. We have such strong views about everything but due to having a lack of motivation, time and resources have turned to our social media platforms to yell about it all instead. The value of doing has become so marginalized by our sense of “doing good” in the manner of just talking about it. We feel that yelling about it is better than not talking at all but maybe we’re wrong in that.
What if we looked to Martin Luther King. Would he have had the impact he had by sitting at home talking about the changes that needed to happen? He walked in it with action and died for it.
Look at Jesus. He didn’t just talk about a cross and actually carried one.
Mother Theresa. She didn’t bitch about what little we do for the poor but lived with, loved and served them instead.
I’m so guilty of falling so short with all this is about and writing this post is just as much some processing for my own sake as that of sharing it with you. The historical figures I’ve mentioned had to choose to live in it and to step beyond the comfort of just talking about it.
It’s time to stop sharing opinions without the intent of understanding all sides of issue it’s based on. There needs to be an end to the epidemic of too many voices and not enough action. If you can’t do what needs to be done then it might be time to sit back and listen until you are ready and able to do something about it.
We all need to remember that our opinions are worth absolutely nothing but that our actions are worth everything.