Thanks to the Internet, we have a plethora of blogs written by women who freely share their opinions on everything that interests them, as well as blogs focused on specific interests. All are wonderful to read and show a depth of understanding that bodes well for our future. They are so prevalent, it's hard to believe there was a time when women were not allowed to have opinions, much less, speak them. Their husbands would give them their opinions! I'm not even going to address that. It's nice to pretend that attitude hasn't changed; but, I can assure you, it's just as prevalent, today, as it was just a very short time ago.
The 'How can she?" "What's wrong with her?" attitude is there in the body language, the rolling eyes, the mouth-mimicking hand, the shared looks of pity, that there's been a social faux pas -- a woman has dared speak out and share an opinion. (As if there's a special place for women who don't voice an opinion around men. Well, there is; it's called childhood and servitude.) Of course, the rudest signal is from someone who feels so superior they show their hand to the speaker.
What is an opinion? An opinion is nothing more than the accumulated personal knowledge you have on any given subject. No one else will have this opinion! Isn't that wonderful! It follows, therefore, that there is no such thing as a wrong opinion. Don't ever let anyone tell you, otherwise. We can't help but have an opinion because our brains are geared to make sense of our world and surroundings and we have to answer questions that linger, thus forming our opinions.
That doesn't mean we can't change those opinions when faced with more complete information. That's the sign of an adult mind -- someone not locked into their way and only their way of thinking. By the same token, don't always assume everyone else has all the right information and that you don't.
In forming an opinion, we bring our own prejudices and misinterpretations, in addition to any given us by others who may or may not have more current information. Facts can change, sometimes, within the very decade of an event because information becomes obsolete with every upgrade of equipment. A strong person will have no problem in refining or changing their opinion. The person who plays "devil's advocate" helps you to clarify your facts and reshape your opinion, if necessary. On the other hand, the devil's advocate who refuses to alter their thinking, in the face of new evidence, is simply being mule-headed.
I personally feel that opinions are a necessary part of human communication. It is only by speaking out that we can validate where we stand on ideas and issues. Now, there are people who will tell you that you have a right to your opinion (not always a friendly statement) but will insist that you accept their way of thinking or you become their enemy. Whilst that may be true so far as patriotic allegiance, it becomes ridiculous when you're discussing a favorite chocolate bar, color, or book.
NOT having an opinion, to me, is scary. That means you can be swayed in any direction or are willing to let others make all your decisions. A pattern that easily leads to gossip and, sometimes, shunning. Following a 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil' way of communicating will always make you a welcome guest in any group. Opinions can be shared without attacking someone else or demanding that they feel as you feel.
Sharing an opinion doesn't mean shouting and hollering over another person until they see things your way, either. I think Teddy Roosevelt said it best when he said, "You have the right to an opinion; but, thank God, within that right is not the right to be taken seriously." There are no wrong opinions and you have as much right to share yours as the next person, without someone trying to make you feel bad. It's the best way to have an honest relationship. Of course, that's only my opinion.
For those of you who have just happened upon this page, do yourself a favor and check out a group of fantastic bloggers. You're bound to find someone you might like to follow. Don't forget to leave some loving comments and spread the word. It could even inspire you to think about joining next year's Challenge, yourself!