The only sin we never forgive is a difference of opinion. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
I prefer not to respond to comments about my blog on Facebook, favorable or otherwise, because I’ve made my point and others can say what they want. Maybe we’ll all learn something. Getting caught up in a debate with someone who seems to be living in an alternate universe is never a good idea. How can you argue with someone who is convinced Santa Claus retired and sold his property at the North Pole to the Easter Bunny who, in turn, fired the elves for going on strike? Where do you even start?
You can make an enemy of a former friend over a difference of opinion which, like the skin of an onion, is just one of many layers in the complex makeup of a human being. In fact, without onion the only thing left of an opinion is “pi,” a Greek letter (π) which is a constant in mathematics used to calculate the circumference of a circle. But I digress.
If you choose to dismiss the worthiness of me as a person because of an opinion, with or without the onion, that is, you are only peeling off one of the layers. The same could be said about me disregarding your existence because you still believe Trump won the election, that COVID-19 has been hyped well beyond in true impact or that whole deal about Santa and the Easter Bunny. I fact-checked the last conspiracy theory on a nonpartisan extreme moderate website and it appears the Easter Bunny is renting with an option to buy. The elves, as it turns out, were allegedly fired by Santa prior to the transaction because they were whistle-blowers alleging toxic working conditions in the toy shop production line. I wasn’t able to confirm that last allegation from a reliable source, which is why I used “allegedly” to cover my butt.
It is a temptation to unfriend someone due to an unwelcome political opinion, but I refuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater, which is an idiomatic expression that has nothing to do with child abuse or bathing babies. It does serve as a reminder that an opinion does not a baby make, despite the lack of documentation on infants rendering opinions and their fondness for onions.
That’s just my opinion.
I do try, and occasionally fail, to avoid giving baths to opinionated babies. Furthermore, it becomes increasingly difficult not to judge someone when their opinions turn nasty, patronizing, totally unsubstantiated, extreme and antidemocratic. That is the job of the President of the United States, leaving it up to the rest of us to stick to the facts as much as we can, keeping an open mind and trying not to repeat anything Rudy Giuliani says. I apologize for piling on when so many are trashing an ailing Rudy these days. He was, after all, “America’s Mayor,” and he still has that going for him after 18 years of doing his best to eliminate that cherished memory we so fondly shared. Ah, for the days when conspiracy theories were limited to anti-American terrorists, the grassy knoll and why people don’t drink beer in TV commercials anymore.
An opinion, in itself, is not something that should brand you for the rest of your life, but it often does. What others think of you can change with the circumstances, but as Mr. Emerson noted at the start of this commentary, contrary opinions are not easily forgotten by those with whom you disagree. I remember a comment made by an old friend who, when cajoled and kidded, was wont to rely: “Your opinion of me is none of my business.”
I knew some day I’d get to use that quote, which basically says I refuse to become part of your reality. Then again, if your opinion is flattering…
We all feel our opinions are the right ones— even when we clearly don’t know what we’re talking about. One of the hardest concessions to make is, “I have no opinion on that.” Hey, what are you? Stupid? Rendering an opinion requires being very authoritative about it, effecting an attitude of superiority. Yet acting like you know what you’re talking about doesn’t always disguise the stupidity behind it.
Sticking with Sources that Reinforce
Arguing gets us nowhere so we turn to sources who reinforce our opinions. We’re learning nothing new but merely digging a deeper trench. When it comes to claims of fraud and conspiracies, there is no shortage of opinions. I believe in the premise of American justice: innocent until proven guilty. The accent is on “proven.” Just making an accusation of guilt does not make it so, and there is something to be said for reasonable doubt when the proof is not there.
There are a lot of crazy opinions being expressed these days and most of them are about politics. The disputes are getting hotter and heavier by the week. It has been suggested that extended families being forced to stay away of each other on Thanksgiving may have been prevented a host of holiday homicides and, at minimum, the malicious slinging of cranberry sauce and turkey stuffing at that uncle who refuses to take off his MAGA hat at the table. Even self-appointed purveyors of biblical dogma are retooling their message of “God is love” to “God is gonna kick ass and take names.” A legion of holy terrors is girding to do battle on behalf of their anointed President, because his opinion trumps (pun intended) the so far unassailable choice of American voters.
Witness the following pronouncement of Eric Metaxas, bestselling author and conservative radio host who considers himself a spokesman for the conservative Christian community. It is also an opinion supported by many diehard Republicans who believe that, despite evidence to the contrary, Donald Trump really won the election. Why? God would not have allowed otherwise.
“Trump will be inaugurated. For the high crimes of trying to throw a U.S. Presidential election, many will go to jail. The swamp will be drained. And Lincoln’s prophetic words of ‘a new birth of freedom’ will be fulfilled. Pray!”
If you want to legitimize an opinion, it never hurts to bring in Abraham Lincoln. “A new birth of freedom,” I should note, was proclaimed in the Gettysburg Address near the end of the Civil War and referred to reconstruction after the war and bringing the nation together. Metaxas, who has stated that “I’d be happy to die in this fight,” seems to be prepping for another civil war and has assured his followers that “Jesus is with us in this fight.”
So opinions do matter beyond what you or I may think. Humanity hasn’t evolved far when it comes to opinions. There is so much of it out there, all so accessible through the magic wand of technology. You’d think we should have learned something in the 2400 years since Greece’s Classical Period and the ancient wisdom of Hippocrates. This dude realized something way back then that many of us still don’t get today.
“Science is the father of knowledge,” said Hippocrates, assumably with a thick Greek accent, “but opinion breeds ignorance.”
So much for my opinion.