I’ve come to realize that every opinion has importance. We live in a country where having an opinion is a fundamental right, but I think we take this right for granted. Whether intentionally or not, we are inclined to block out opinions that fundamentally misalign with our values or worldview. This is human nature. Am I saying all other opinions are correct and we should welcome them with open arms? Of course not. But, they are opinions nonetheless, and even if we disagree with the substance of what someone says, I would like to give the person the benefit of the doubt that they are coming from a good place.
When someone shares an opinion with me, I see it as a form of respect. They did not have to say anything to me and it takes far more effort to convey a point of view than to not say anything at all. I could have gone on living my life without ever encountering what they thought at that moment, but they chose to share an intimate part of themselves. Shouldn’t I at least hear them out?
It matters not their creed, upbringing, or experience. None of those are prerequisites for having an opinion. But they do absolutely matter. Whereas they do not dictate whether someone can have an opinion, they do allow us to weigh how compelling an opinion is. Even if you believe you know a person, we are walking enigmas that hide large parts of ourselves, and an opinion often comes out long before we know enough about the person to properly weigh their opinion against our own understanding.
At this point, you may be thinking I am beating around the bush, but I want to make this point painfully clear: please hear people out. When you preemptively tell someone they are not entitled to an opinion because you believe you know their entire creed, upbringing, or experience, you are making an assumption and doing something incredibly hurtful. I know opinions can be wrong and painful, but please at least hear them out. They respected you enough to convey them in the first place.
Phillip Post, Class of 2025
If anyone wishes to discuss any of this or anything else with me. I welcome you and I value your opinion. Thank you!