Don't be afraid to share your opinions

Mark Hammontree

In multiple instances in the past, I’ve said things that have gotten me into a little trouble. I’ve made insensitive jokes without thinking about the perspectives of people around me. I’ve made assumptions without having enough information and rushed to judge. Maybe most often, I’ve been too quick to share my opinions before I’ve really determined if I believe them or not.

Still, all that being said, I have few regrets about sharing my opinions whenever I have been afforded the opportunity. There are issues I’ve changed positions on over the last few years, but when you share your beliefs, those beliefs can be challenged, and you are open to growing and learning.

I like to debate, and I like to argue. And it’s never so much because I like the feeling of winning or being “right.” Rather, it’s because discussion and even arguing are ways of testing the soundness of your beliefs and the strength of your own convictions. When you are asked to defend something you’ve said, you find out quickly whether your heart is in it or not.

Too often, we criticize people who share their opinions, usually for no other reason than we disagree with what they’ve said. Whether it’s a political or religious issue or even just about football, we tell people to keep their thoughts to themselves if their beliefs don’t match the majority opinion.

I don’t mean to defend those people who say hateful or derogatory things, as that has less to do with sharing an opinion as it does actively trying to tear down someone else’s beliefs. Sharing a belief is very different from attempting to invalidate someone else’s. Just know that your beliefs will be challenged.

I believe there are certain absolute truths in this world. I believe that in certain issues, there are very clear rights and very clear wrongs.

For example, I believe the God of Christianity is the only God, and I believe that he sent his Son to die for me. I believe this core tenet of Christianity to be true, and therefore anyone who would disagree with that would in my view be wrong. But that doesn’t mean that the opinions of atheists on issues of faith and religion are any less valuable than mine. None of us should feel afraid of sharing our faiths or beliefs publicly.

What I’m trying to say is that we should be a society that encourages open discussion from every side of an issue. We should be a society that encourages people to be accepting of various points of view but still be brave enough to have their own individual set of beliefs.

If everyone were to agree with all your beliefs, you wouldn’t really have any at all. So don’t be afraid to have an opinion. Don’t be afraid to have religious faith, and don’t be afraid to believe that religion is just superstition. Don’t be afraid to be yourself loudly and publicly. Just know and embrace the fact that people will disagree with you and you will disagree with them, and maybe your beliefs will change. To change and to grow, however, you first have to share who you are.

Mark Hammontree is a junior majoring in secondary education – English. His column runs weekly.