Well, let’s be honest (this is a test of your integrity and credibility): isn’t it true that we all have an “inner spoiled brat”? [The part of you that is screaming out at me right now, “Speak for yourself!” that’s the voice of your inner spoiled brat.]
The inner spoiled brat is that part of us that irrationally asserts that it has a right to view certain people and certain topics and situations in a particular way regardless of the existence of facts that may render that outlook out-of-date… if it was ever an accurate viewpoint in the first place.
The inner spoiled brat says, “No matter what, I’m going to think the way I want about a particular person or a particular subject! I have a right to feel this way or think this way and nothing you say will change it.”
It was that voice – my inner spoiled brat – that hollered the loudest when my friend declared: “Until you get your facts straight, you aren’t authorized to have an opinion.”
You see, the inner spoiled brat demands to retain the right to feel any way he or she sees fit, no matter what. ‘Don’t tell me I’m not authorized to have an opinion about whatever I want to have an opinion about!’ bellows the inner spoiled brat.
We’ll discuss the inner spoiled brat in future posts. For now, we have to agree that decisions will have to be made with regard to the inner spoiled brat; decisions about how much control you’re willing to continue to surrender to a part of you that is the very definition of immaturity. It’s a daily battle and, like I said, a topic for another day.
For now, let’s wrap this up.
If you want your outlook on things to matter to people, make darn sure you’ve got your facts straight before you open your mouth.
And if and when you do have all the facts, who said it is time to share those facts with others? There are some topics for which there’s never a right time or place in certain settings with certain people. Pray for wisdom. Be cautious. Don’t be reckless. Relationships and reputations are sometimes needlessly forever tarnished, even destroyed, because someone carelessly throws something out with the flimsy excuse that, “Well, that’s my opinion and we all have a right to an opinion.”
Shut up! No, you’re not authorized to have an opinion if it’s not based on all relevant facts. And even then, nobody has a right to throw words around like a wrecking ball. Do we really have a license to hurt others as long as we’re speaking what we believe to be the truth? Of the few times we may actually know all the facts, do you think the person with whom those facts are shared will feel that you are relaying your “opinion” in a loving and gracious manner… 100% of the time? If not, well, there’s your license to shut up.
Here’s a useful question: if you shut up more frequently than you speak up, do you think you’ll have more obstacles in life, or fewer obstacles?
And finally, to demand that the only opinions that are valid are those that are founded upon all knowable and known facts is not to insist that all opinions be the same. Not at all! Two people can have opposite opinions about the same set of facts. I’m simply arguing here that the discussion, argument, or debate should be based upon the facts of the matter. Until the facts are on the table, the discussion is a waste of time.
Do you harbor negative thoughts or feelings toward another person? Do you know for a fact that you know all the facts? Do you? Are you sure?
Until you’re sure (and you can never really be completely sure you know all there is to know), it’s safer to ask questions than make statements… don’t you think?
Whether the topic is people or a certain subject, your opinion isn’t worth two cents if you haven’t got your facts straight. Until then, shut up unless it’s to ask questions because no one cares about your “opinion” until you know what you’re talking about.