My opinion on opinions

WARNING: this post contains a lot of opinions; the irony is not lost on me.

We all know the saying: opinions are like a** holes, everybody has one.

But opinions are more than that, they make us who we are. They help to distinguish us from our peers and shape how we see the world around us.

Some opinions are simple: “Cats are better than dogs.” and “Blue is the best colour.” These opinions aren’t based in any sort of concrete fact, but it doesn’t matter because they are harmless. Sure, the cat versus dog debate has long been a highly contentious issue and that blue is way better than red has the potential to spark a heated argument between friends on the primary school playground, but you can just hug it out and move on. You can’t prove these opinions, and you shouldn’t need to. They are just harmless observations about how we perceive the world (even though we all secretly know that cats win every time and there is no way red is better than blue).

There are some opinions, however, that carry a bit more weight. The 2016 US presidential election brought out the worst in people – I think that’s something most people can agree on. Pro or anti-Trump, everyone has an opinion on the 45th President of the United States. But, unlike cats and dogs or red and blue, these opinions are serious. Disagreements on these opinions can’t be as easily hugged out and forgotten. These opinions have the power cause arguments between family members and friends and to divide a nation.

The next four years are going to be long, they are going to be trying, and they are going to rewrite the history of our nation. Now, more than ever, our opinions on the direction and actions of our government need to be informed. We need to base our opinions on hard facts, that we can research and validate through credible sources. We can already see the damaging effects uninformed opinions are having – the difference between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act is a perfect example. The recent Jimmy Kimmel segment where people on the street were asked if they preferred Obamacare or the ACA shows just how dangerous uninformed opinions can be. One woman stated that she preferred the ACA over Obamacare because she doesn’t like Obama – she had no idea they were the same thing. This is frightening.

We need to have our opinions. Our opinions eventually become our beliefs. Our beliefs are integral to who we are and they are incredibly hard to change, no matter how many facts to the contrary we are presented with. And that’s okay – that’s amazing. It’s that kind of belief and faith that something can be done that has led to mankind walking on the moon and building the Pyramids of Giza. BUT – those opinions were based in some sort of substantiated fact that what was being attempted could be done.

I have a cousin who is a staunch Trump supporter which is causing some tension on that side of the family. A recent exchange with her and a few other family members is what inspired this post. My one request is that when you express your opinion – that we all have every right to – that you don’t ignore hard-core facts that may contradict that opinion. I want us all to remain vigilant and to do our research before we make decisions that can drastically affect the rest of our lives. Opinions that can cause harm to others need to have more behind them than ‘alternative facts’ and fake news. For the love of everything we all hold dear – please spend five minutes checking a reputable source. It’s like using Wikipedia as a reference for a university paper – did you ever get credit for it?

This of course, is all my opinion and I have little recourse to substantiate any of it.