By Hayleigh Brokaw
It’s hard to go a whole day without hearing someone’s opinion. It’s hard to go on social media and not see someone’s opinion. It’s even harder for some to sit in classrooms, surrounded by loud opinions that are definitely not their own. How do we avoid the angry and obnoxious voices that can tend to surround us? Trick question-you really don’t. The best alternative I can offer is a term I call opinion appreciation.
Let’s make a cumulative list of things people have had a strong opinion on as of recent months and even years: COVID, COVID vaccination, abortion, racial discrimination, gender equality, police brutality, gun control. You name it, someone has an opinion on it. These are the hot spots, and pride and joy of extreme sided political dads on Facebook, and sometimes even that one professor or friend who bases conversations off their beliefs. That’s fine. I have adopted (in most scenarios) the concept of opinion appreciation. You can certainly voice an opinion as loud as you like, make it as passionate as you need it to be. My issue lies within a very specific type of person: people who advocate for equal rights and voices but are the first to shut down any deviating statement against their own, most likely a respectful one. I am one for personal choices, with careful consideration if these choices will negatively harm others.
My best example right now is the COVID-19 vaccination dilemma. This is a conversation I feel that can go many different ways, good and bad. I have the Moderna vaccine. I was on my couch for 2 days with each of them, but I did it. The space I am in (Illinois State) sees the vaccine as an essential, and I got it. Guess what; my mother and brother are not. I have multiple friends who are not. These aren’t strong, lit-up opinions on how it doesn’t work and is all a scam. It’s an opinion that is simply “I am waiting until I feel the time is right, and it is required in the spaces I am in”. They wear their masks, get their weekly or monthly tests, and go on with no issues. Then, I wander on over to pages and stories of “friends” who basically talk down to unvaccinated individuals. This is an argument I find much harder to follow, but it is their own.
We have all witnessed the saddening and shocking headlines of police brutality that have swept the nation for years and years. We have heard statements and campaigns from politicians to defund police forces due to their misdemeanors. My father was a police officer for over 20 years before his passing. These news reports broke my heart- on all ends. I stand with the people who suffered losses due to these injustices. I also stand for the families who send family members to work everyday, knowing they care so much about their line of work, but sadly others in their field set a terrible example. There are so many sides to a story- I’ll never say which one is right or wrong.
Nonetheless, I am one to foster a safe space for opinions, and to enable the given ability to humans to listen. Listen to your peers, encourage their opinions, and this does not mean providing an angry defense that belittles and deflates their purpose. This does NOT mean losing yourself in what others have to say. Beliefs are real, and valuable. Follow your standards, listen to others- maybe even take note from parts of their perspective. All in all, learn to appreciate others’ opinions, even if they aren’t your own sometimes. You never know the other end of a story. I encourage you to use opinion appreciation; it is perfectly clear that there are many injustices that surround us. Spreading more hate will not make these come to an end, but we become an exception in the system and decrease the negativity we give.