The Power of Opinion
I remember sitting in my writing class several years back with a very clear aspiration. Every few days, we would head up to the library and I would loan from them magazines like Time. Its feature writers and columnists, to me, wrote with such an attractive eloquence; I sought to scramble my words as wisely. I did not care so much for current affairs, as I did quite simply, for shit that mattered. Time injected true significance into modern-day media works. It was one of the few mediums appearing to do so.
I moved down to Wellington and I began to contribute as a news writer for the university magazine. It was a path I assumed correct. And while I fascinated in phone calls with politicians and the art of flash reads, I was not stimulated. I fought so stubbornly to include my opinion. Formality was not my forté. I wanted to quarrel with my own remarks, and then, so persuasively with others’. I fidgeted, desperate to swear and to dramatise and, to talk.
I have since shifted my aspiration, although really, it has not been in the single place I thought for a long time. Here on my blog, I have willingly and with passion shared each deep thought. I have held a needle and thread, and I have poked in and out until the button has been sewn on. Later, it has fallen; my thoughts, growing excessively redundant.
It is not at my displeasure that words have been so timely. I have never asked for a definitive answer. Always, ample space for experimentation. Opinion is infinite; it changes as we do. It has never stood still to explain us. Never been characterised without clauses and exceptions.
To write in such an opinion-ridden manner is so appealing, not for I value my own so highly – though to an extent, you must. I purely believe in the power of opinion. I wrote a single sentence on my notes the other day as I was walking. I’m uncertain why the phrase found me when it did; why it flashed in neon lights as if directing me to some VIP club. But I knew I wanted to remember it.
It is just 13 words and it goes like this:
Fact is not capable of change, nor of changing the world, without opinion.
And on writing and viewing those 13 words on a blank page of notes, things made a lot of sense. Without opinion, we were nothing. We were not growing beings, capable of change and adaptation. Without opinion, we were not filled with desire for advancement. We did not question the path that would or wouldn’t see us there.
So why did this idea of opinion and its importance progress further than my notes? Why did I not apply it towards my own actions and my own direction in life, and be done there? Well, I’ve put it in a place because firstly, this is the place where I put things. And secondly, I don’t believe it matters much the way you give your thoughts to this world, so long as you do. So long as you contemplate to try, this idea applies to you too.
I want to ask you a couple of questions that have since back-cornered my mind.
First.. why have we ladened opinion with such a negative taint?
What makes accepted opinion ultimate opinion, when together, change never has bound itself?
Why does the fear of judgement supersede our fear of stagnation?
Why does the fact that our thoughts mightn’t exist in mass stop us from being the first to think and express uniquely at all?
Why, I ask, are you afraid to start a blog? To begin a YouTube channel? To document things too close? To comment on things too far? Too often, we use experience as a buffer to sharing our opinion. What happens, then, if we never gain enough to satisfy our willingness to speak?
What’s worse, now: is it to be silent or to be vulnerable? To accept the world as it is, or to risk being wrong in the assumption it could be something else?
I have learnt the more we share absurd opinion, the less shocking the absurdity becomes. There are a lot of people in this life who ought to be shocked. Many who need strong, confident individuals to ignore the disdain of their old and entitled eyebrows. To stand with assertion to voice an opinion regardless.
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to want to change the world. You don’t even have to want to change a corner of it. But you do have to value your voice, to value mine and hers and his. You have to want to normalise opinion so much that judgement is not the given response, but contemplation. Reflection. And action.
(King George VI: Because I have a right to be heard! I have a voice!)
Let it sound beyond the mask of the mass. When it is right, let it emanate alone. One day, we’ll understand that our single voices can resonate just as loud, if not louder, if we do not fall under a pressure to speak the same words.
Wearing: Emma Ford Swim
Photos by Adrian Jackson