You are all going to be so proud of me.
I’ve done it. I have found the pathway to world peace.
Frequently over the past years we have discussed how so many of us confuse our opinions with fact.
We actually believe when we say something like “there would be far fewer school shootings in the United States if all schoolteachers were required to be armed at all times,” or “arming schoolteachers will do nothing more than cause the death toll from school shootings to rise dramatically,” that we are expressing statements of fact rather than just voicing an opinion.
This means that if our statements are, indeed, facts, then the utterings of those on the opposite side must be plain wrong. Of course, those on the other side of the debate, present their case with the same belief that what they are saying represents statements of fact that are both irrefutable and indisputable, thus rendering ours “facts” to be wrong.
I once heard a wise philosopher stay that we humans are little more than walking, talking opinion – distribution-machines. She went on to say that so many of us, simply because we believe something to be true, confuse our beliefs with truth, and will often go to great lengths – even extreme lengths like warfare – to “prove” our point.
I use the example of gun ownership because I have watched with fasciation the debate rage across the United States and my own opinion is that this is not an issue that has any simplicity to its solution. The polarized viewpoints of those on either side of this debate become quite heated as they furiously express their frustration at their opponent’s inability to acknowledge how wrong they are in their misguided viewpoints.
I bragged earlier about having come up with a plan to promote peace in the world. Henceforth it shall be the law that we begin each statement with the words, “In my opinion.”
You see, beginning each sentence with the words “in my opinion” is an enormous diffuser of anger. It gives us great latitude in being able to say what we think without offending others.
Instead of saying, “my boss is so useless he couldn’t even manage a hot dog stand,” thereby running the risk of invoking the boss’s wrath and suffering the consequences you simply say, “In my opinion my boss is so useless he couldn’t even manage a hot dog stand.”
You’re not saying your boss is useless, you’re saying that, in your opinion, he’s useless. You are not expressing a statement of fact – heck, you’re implying you may even be wrong – after all, it’s just an opinion.
You’re leaving open the possibility of him being fully capable of managing a hot dog stand.
A much safer approach.
Imagine being confronted by the very question that strikes fear in the heart of every husband on the planet. “Honey, do these jeans make me look fat?”
Here are a few potentially life-threatening answers:
“Yes, they do.”
“No more than anything else.”
“Don’t blame the jeans.”
Use any of these and you have expressed a statement of fact that will have no happy ending. Most likely you and the dog will be cuddling up together in the crate for the foreseeable future.
Now, try this. “Honey, in my opinion, those jeans do make you look fat.” See the difference? You haven’t said. “You look fat,” you have merely stated your opinion and you immediately follow up with, “that’s just my opinion, Hon, and you know my opinions are usually wrong.”
Like I said a powerful diffuser.
If we begin every statement with those three powerful words, there would be no need for others to become defensive or aggressive and peace on earth would surely follow.
Just my opinion.
Till we read again.
My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.