Friday, March 30, 2012

In My Humble Opinion



About the only thing I don't have a strong opinion on is why there is even a small percentage of people out there who always respond to surveys with "no opinion." Yet there they are, in every poll, the no-opinion people. A question could be as simple as "Is Michael Jackson dead?" or "Is durian truly edible?" and this people will have nothing to say, either way. Most of us are just brimming with beliefs, attitudes, judgement calls and crank theories. We freely give our wisdom in bars, on radio talk-back shows and over the Internet. Parties wouldn't exist at all without personal appraisals of the weather, that awful dress on the woman across the room or the latest political scandal. And speaking of politicians, they wouldn't know which way to turn without polls telling them what an average Juan thinks. Likewise, advertisers won't dare release a new commercial without first putting it through the wringer of intense focus group discussions. Opinion rules, pure and simple.Once we have formed our opinions, we rarely change our minds --- unless we are swayed by someone else with arguments more compelling than our own. We tend to listen more to those who hold positions of power. Not elected officials or CEO's, mind you, but those with real power --- the television journalist and the radio talk-show host who, we reason, must have special opinions since they have been given a media podium of their own from which to expound them. But just who gives the radio commentators of this world the authority to speak for all of us --- and how do I get my name in his rotary file? Don't other people's opinions --- or rather, mine --- deserve equal respect?How I yearn to be able to voice my views in a way that will be heard over the opinionated roar of the crowd. To at last rise above those nitwits who counter one's considered pronouncements with the ever-witty rejoinder, "That's just your opinion!" Well of course it's my opinion. Who else's opinion would I be expressing! My next-door neighbour's? Yes, if I had my own radio or television talk show, more people would pay attention to my personal take on subjects as diverse as Filipino Clam Mentality (I'm allergic on crabs) and Why "makahiya" has a good reflex?But I am just one of millions of voices crying out in an increasingly deafened wilderness. There are simply too many opinions out there, and as the world grows more open and democratic, people are beginning to assign equal weight to each and every argument. The way the rules now seem to work, everybody is entitled to his own opinion and has a right to express it freely. Nevertheless, that opinion, no matter how well reasoned, is no more valid than the next guy's. Therefore, to wage a debate in an effort to win anyone over would be considered the height of rudeness. One is, in fact, far better off not voicing an opinion at all.Perhaps that is where the "no opinion" poll people come from. Maybe they've just grown tired of playing a game that always ends in a draw. Possibly they've adopted a philosophical stance that says, "If you can't beat 'em, bow out."I must admit it does look tempting sometimes to join their ranks. But that would be admitting defeat --- in my humble opinion.
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