Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why Did I Open My Big Mouth?

I’ve always been somewhat liberally opinionated, especially about social issues. I’m not sure why; my parents believed in equality – to a certain extent, and certainly they believed in fairness, but I don’t think of them as having been very opinionated or liberal. Perhaps it was the reading material I chose as I grew up. This sounds a bit absurd, but I read Ann Landers regularly as a pre-teen and teen and, though she had some “old-fashioned” viewpoints, her advice was pretty open-minded. Then, just as I entered high school, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective came out with Our Bodies, Ourselves – it became my Bible. I have no doubt that this book played a big part in forming my basic foundational opinions about many social issues.

During my teens and twenties, maybe even into my thirties, I was somewhat vocal about my opinions, but I’ve recently realized that, while the passion of opinion is still strong within me, I’m no longer very vocal. This realization has been eye-opening to me and has caused me to give a lot of thought about why I have become a quietly opinionated person. This all arose when a friend posted a plea on her blog for support of a cause that I didn’t agree with. My initial reaction was to simply close the blog and move on to something else, but the topic was one that I’m particularly passionate about, so I gritted my teeth and typed out a comment, “Sorry, I disagree.” This simple sentence has spurred additional requests for discussion from my friend and, while I like a good conversation as much as the next person, what I have realized over the last two weeks since I gritted my teeth and typed, is that I no longer care to engage in debate-style discussions. I know that a lot of people love to discuss hot topics: politics, religion, social issues, but I don’t and I realize now that this is something that has changed within me as I’ve aged. In my twenties I would have loved a hot discussion – setting out my opinions and attempting to get the other person to see that my way is the right way. Now, and this is all part of this new realization, I’m pretty comfortable with my opinions and, while I’m happy to state them when asked, I no longer feel the need to try and convince others that I’m right – just as I’m comfortable with my opinions, I assume others are with theirs.

I have a great many friends whose opinions on sensitive subjects differ from my own, but I don’t think that’s an impediment to our friendships – perhaps it even enhances the relationships. More than having similar opinions, what I want in a friend is someone with the same basic moral values regarding loyalty to family and friends, kindness and giving, intelligence and interest. When my friend first asked me for more information on my comment, my first thought was, Why did I open my big mouth? Now, I’m glad I did and I’m glad she asked. I’m sure we’ll have a good conversation on this topic and this short little internet exchange caused me to really take a look at myself and how I’ve changed over the years on the subject of voicing opinions. In my opinion, I’m comfortable with who I have become.

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