exposition


There’s a tired old joke or saying that goes: “Opinions are like assholes – everyone has one.”

How many times have you heard that? For me, it seems like ad nauseum.

When I hear that, the subtext for me is, “The person that said that [insert opinion of your choice] is an asshole. We need not consider their – ahem!! – ‘opinion’!” It can be a refutation, a dismissal of whatever was previously said.

It can also be a way of defusing the charged atmosphere when the rhetoric starts coming fast & furious: “Let’s not take this so seriously.”

How often do you really hear an ‘opinion’ expressed that is any different from a thousand others that you’ve already heard? Can you really even consider it an opinion, if you’ve already heard it that many times? Isn’t that more like just repeating something that was picked up somewhere else? Sometimes you hear something different, that way. Sometimes. Where’s the thought in that? Where’s the original idea? An idea is a completely different experience.

What am I getting at, here?

Dictionary.com’s definition is this:

opinion: 1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.    2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.   3. the formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for a second medical opinion.  4. Law. the formal statement by a judge or court of the reasoning and the principles of law used in reaching a decision of a case.   5. a judgment or estimate of a person or thing with respect to character, merit, etc.: to forfeit someone’s good opinion.

So I’m using the word in a more ‘formal’ sense, giving it a little more gravitas.

When I hear an idea or concept that is really different – that gets me thinking, gets the wheels turning – then, only then do I truly feel that I have heard an opinion that is worthy of the name. I mean to say – it’s nice when someone can get me to look at something commonplace in a whole new way.

And how often is that? Not very often! That’s my point. Or maybe I’m just not listening very well. Actually, I feel like I hear profound stuff almost every day.

As to the previously mentioned part of the anatomy? Yes, most everyone certainly has one. Something original to say? Maybe that’s not quite as common.

How about this, instead? “Opinions are like warts – not everyone has one!”

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(third revision)

In my young adulthood, the first time I heard anyone talking about courage as a desirable character trait, it felt very self conscious to me; it didn’t ring true. In my own mind, I’d already worked out what courage was. It didn’t include talking about it, discussing it – which seemed like a conceit. It was something that went beyond the realm of speech; or simply didn’t need to be put in words.

Over time, as I heard people repeatedly speak of courage, it somehow became something that I could aspire to and possess. I believe that it became more deeply instilled in me as a value. It takes courage to live in a complacent world. Yet it makes life so much more interesting.

When people tell me today that I have courage, it can be hard to understand. It’s not a word that I use a lot. It doesn’t seem to relate to anything about my life in particular. What is it about me; or what is it that people think I’ve done?

As regards to my gender identity and sexuality, it’s more a case of stubbornness, bullheadedness. I did not like the choices I was given. With so much of my life already past, I learned the true meaning of codependency (it was not what I’d thought.) I came to believe/understand that we can’t micro-manage other people’s feelings. We can’t “make them happy”‘, etc. We can’t change them. The only person we can change is ourselves. I learned the neat trick of creating choices of my own.

I’ve been called a rebel. It seems to me more to the point. I didn’t like the flow of my life, so I chose to go against it; or rather, to go with my own flow. Surely there’s a joy in that. It’s more in the realm of identity-as-a-concept-in-itself.

If I possess any quality worthy of praise, I think it’s more in a striving to be honest. What others are unwilling to say, I sometimes feel compelled to attempt.

Nevertheless, I feel that courage is one of the highest compliments one can receive. So I must appreciate it.

If you’ve ever been praised in a very thoughtful way and aren’t sure if you should take credit for it – the thoughtfulness and love of the words may yet make you aspire to become that person.

There’s so many kinds of courage. Enough for all.

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Pretty funny stuff. It sums up the fundamentalist viewpoint pretty well. It illustrates, for me, how endemic this kind of thinking is in our country – in our world, even? It’s kind of the mandate for institutionalized religion & spirituality, don’t you think? – to limit critical thinking, self-expression, etc.

Or substitute with the dogma of your choice.

Genesis 11:7  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

Russel’s Teapot.com

Wiki’s explanation of the term Russel’s teapot

Is There A God? by Bertrand Russel (from which the phrase came)