Opinions are like…

I am sure most of you have heard that saying so I don’t see any reason to finish it…

Image courtesy of teenmentalhealth.org

 

As the Presidential election draws near, I have noticed that a lot of people have very strong opinions about both candidates.  I think that is great and pray that it will translate to more people becoming involved in the election process, regardless of who you choose to vote for.

 

However… I have become disturbed by the lack of respect that some people have for those who don’t agree with their opinion.  I have found myself criticizing someone based on what they think and believe.  It disturbs me to have those feelings because it goes against one of my fundamental personal beliefs.  I believe that everyone is entitled to speak and believe their personal truth.

What is a personal truth?  I once read a quote that simply stated, “Just because you believe it, does not make it true.”

There are some things that each of believe but our belief does not always make it true.  This does not include information that is factually based rather encompasses those intangible feelings and values surrounding those facts.  I have taught my son to believe that he is a super hero capable of accomplishing anything that he sets his mind to achieving.  Does that make him a superhero in the traditional sense of super beings who leap tall buildings and fly through the air saving the world?  Not at all.  But that belief gives him the confidence to strive for greatness in his mind.

Back to politics…

There is a great debate about the leadership styles of President Barack Obama and Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.  This is not shocking because they are two very different people with two very different ideas about the future of the United States.  I heard a commentator question why we didn’t spend more time reflecting on the things that they agree upon.  That made no sense to me because it is their differences, those ideals unique to each of them that we will be voting on.

Most of us hold a personal truth regarding our view of the candidates.  On Facebook the other night, my friends proved how strongly they believed their personal truths and the discussion was still going at 830 the next morning.  Although much of the information that was discussed was factually based, the arguments devolved into their personal truth regarding the interpretation of the information.  The facts were not different but the lens through which they each processed the information was a fascinating sociology case study.

We all have opinions.  Some are stronger than others.  Some are more grounded in factual truth than others.  Regardless, we all have opinions.  We are blessed to live in a country that celebrates those opinions and provides free forums such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs for us to express those opinions as often as we like.  However, it is important for us to not become so engrossed in our personal truth until we cannot learn from others.

One of the core principles of a democracy is that it looks out for the greater good.  Simply because you believe something to be right, true or just does not make it so for everyone else.  We have a tendency to get so involved in what we want that we forget about those around us.  Regardless of my personal opinions about abortion, I am not so arrogant that I think everyone should hold the same view.  Regardless of my personal opinion about war, I know that I don’t possess the necessary information to create foreign policy.  In a democracy, we have the privilege to vote for officials who will represent us in these matters.  We attempt to find those whose values, beliefs and personal truths are most in line with ours so that they can be representative of our interests.  However, somewhere along the way we lost sight of the ability to compromise.  We forgot that because something is right for me, does not make it right for the entire country.

In the Bible, Paul agrees that even if something is permissible (in our case legally allowable), it does not make it right us (Christians).  Along with our ability to believe and reason based on our individual consciousness; we also have the freedom and power to live according to our own standards.  Permitting same-sex marriage or abortion does not mean that you have to engage in the activities but how arrogant are we to believe that everyone in this country should conform to our personal truth?

 

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