The importance of opinion

Sharon Styles and Sharon Styles

What’s your opinion? That question usually ends with an inquiry of your thoughts on a particular subject. Your answer says a lot about who you are and how you think. Blank stares and hair twisting followed by mumbling “I don’t know” are never good. In my opinion, everyone should have an opinion.

When I was a young girl out in public with my dad, he would become visibly upset if I did not answer questions properly. He would look at me and say, “Open your mouth and speak up. Say something.”

My father was self employed and operated a cleaning service. On the first of each month, he would drive around our small California town to drop off the bill and pick up payments. His clients included doctors, dentists, beauty shops, finance companies and the local newspaper.

Sometimes I went with him to collect payments. My dad always took me to places I did not want to go and made me speak to people I did not want to speak to. He felt I needed to know how to “make conversation” with total strangers. He said it would help me later in life. He was right.

In some of my classes I find myself surrounded by people who never have an opinion on anything. I realize it is not possible to be completely informed on everything, but to never express an opinion on anything defies logic. How can that be? School is the safest place to offer an opinion and not worry about how it may affect your employment. If you are in a class where the instructor asks for your opinion, say something.

If you are in favor of same sex marriage because you feel it is a civil right or if you are against it for religious reasons, say something.

If you feel abortion is murder or if you think a woman should keep her right to choose, say something.

If you don’t like Romney or Obama, say something.

In 2008, Henry Milner at the University of Montreal in Canada found 56 percent of youth in America did not know you must be a citizen in order to vote and 60 percent had no idea whether Democrats or Republicans are more conservative. The answer is Republicans.

Now, if you do not have an opinion, allow me to help you get one; set aside 10 minutes each day to follow the news. Read this newspaper cover to cover, check the news online, watch the news on television or listen on the radio. Talk to friends or family and use their opinions until you get your own.

“I’m sorry, I read something about this, but I can not recall the details.” Try using this phrase next time you are asked for your opinion and you have no clue. This implies you do in fact read, but your memory is failing at the moment.

Once you develop your own opinions, keep in mind other people may not agree with you. That is fine. Learn to respect everyone’s right to his or her opinion.

The next time someone asks your opinion, open your mouth and speak up. Say something.