Informed Opinion

Pensive posterized

Informed Opinion

Photo:  S.F. Dennstedt

I’ve had a couple of sidebar emails commenting on my previous post:  Verbal Combat in the Modern Age.  I really dislike bullies of any type, but in particular I dislike cyber-bullies.  Those bullies that use their brute tactics on TV, Radio and electronic social media to further their own agenda through intimidation.  They shout, they rant and they rave, and they try to intimidate through volume and put-downs instead of logic and dialog.  Typically, I find that bullies are really just pissants when confronted.

Opinions are great.  Everyone has a few.  But opinions should be informed.  Informed opinions have gravitas, and without gravitas opinions tend to ring hollow.  Often, opinions are informed through reading, study and discussion—but I find that opinions informed through real-life experience usually contain the most gravitas.  That was the point I was trying to make in the previous post.  Am I expected to take your opinion as gospel, when my own experience tells me otherwise?  I think not.  The better informed you are, the more likely it is that your opinion will carry some intellectual weight.  No amount of bullying will strengthen an inherently weak argument.  A favorite quote of mine follows:

“You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument.”

– Samuel Johnson

The previous post contained subject matter that I am particularly sensitive to, and that is: Our almost insane rush to heed the drumbeat of war.  For the drumbeat of war sounds hollow.  It seems as if those who would beat the drum the loudest, are those with no practical experience of war, or those with nothing to personally lose (and even possibly everything to gain).  I have some practical experience in this area, and I find it suspect that those chicken hawks with the loudest drums are:  Politicians, big business, radio and TV shock-jocks, false– patriots (nationalists and fascists) and the ignorant.

Is there a time to go to war, to engage in armed conflict, to slay the dragons?  Of course. But not as often as one might suppose  listening to the opinions of the aforementioned protagonists of war.  It doesn’t often pass the smell test when filtered through the matrix of winners and losers, power and money.  A large dose of skepticism is in order when listening to these folks.  Be opinionated, but inform your opinion through studying, reading, discussion and practical experience.  Don’t simply be a mouthpiece for the cabal of politicians, businessman, shock-jocks, über-patriots and the ignorant.

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