Fat Charlie the Archangel Slipped into the room. He said “I have no opinion about this; and I have no opinion about that.” Sad as a lonely little wrinkled balloon, he said “Well, I don’t claim to be happy about this, boys; and I don’t seem to be happy about that.”
What do you mean, Paul Simon: “I have no opinion about this?” These days EVERYBODY has an opinion about everything! Just take a look at Facebook. And when we can’t think of an opinion to have we find other people who have opinions and post links to them.
I’m getting ready to preach a sermon: “Called to Take A Stand Against Racism”. Seeing as how that sermon isn’t for another week and a half I might come up with a better title for it. However, during this month of using classic movies as a catalyst for the sermon conversations I have chosen To Kill a Mockingbird for this message. A line from the book caught my attention. Scout is a 6 year-old who has just started school and things didn’t go so well her first day. As she talks it over with her dad, Atticus Finch, he offers a perspective she hadn’t thought of. Regarding how the teacher had behaved toward her Atticus said: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”
I am in the middle of another book – an obscure title called If Winter Comes. The main character in the book, Mark Sabre, is always seeing things from “the other point of view”. “I’m not saying he is right,” says Sabre; “I’m only saying he’s right from how he looks at it.” As the book progresses, Mark Sabre will lament the fact that he doesn’t have his own point of view. He is always trying to see things as the other sees them.
Mark Sabre takes this attitude into every relationship. He struggles to get along with his wife. They are so different from each other, but Sabre always tries to see things from Mabel’s perspective. He does the same thing at work, and to such an extent that his co-workers become exasperated with him. While the story is set during the years of the World War I, I suspect if Mark Sabre were alive today he would not have a Facebook page or a blog.
It’s interesting to me that this notion has popped up in these two books that I happen to be reading simultaneously. I tend to be a person of strong opinions. I don’t always wait to gather facts. At the same time I find myself reticent before expressing too many opinions – especially on Facebook or other social media. Before I say what I think, do I understand how the other person looks at it?
I always read the “Opinion” pages in the local and national newspapers. I always listen with heightened interest to the “columnists” who share their opinion on the radio. Sometimes I wish I were more precise as to what I thought about things. Sometimes I wish I were less arrogant in how I express my opinions.
Somewhere between having “no opinion about this or that” and firing off my opinion before I even know what I’m talking about, there has to be a middle ground. I’d love to know your opinion about this…