Monday, July 30, 2012

Do You Respect People's Opinions?

Do you respect other people? Do you respect their right to have a different opinion than you? Of course you do. But do you respect their opinions? Before you say yes, stop and think about that one.

We respect people because they are our equals. We all came into this world with nothing and we will leave it with nothing. When it is all said and done, we’re all the same. We respect people’s right to have a different opinion because we recognize that we ourselves are sometimes wrong. Even if we know that all evidence supports what we believe, we can appreciate that other people may have trouble accepting the proof that exists.

But respecting another person’s opinions is something different. Respect refers to esteeming or admiring something. It carries with it the idea that we value the thing we respect. It makes sense for us to value people. It makes sense to value a person’s rights. The question is, how do we measure the worth of an individual opinion?

The court system has no problem measuring the value of an opinion. The opinion of an expert witness is valued above that of someone who has read a few books on the subject. Eye witness testimony is valued above hearsay and the opinion of someone who just thinks things should be a certain way is rejected completely.

We encounter opinions daily. Everyone has a right to his opinion, but the value of his opinion must be determined by the source of that opinion. Our respect for a person’s opinion should not be based on how well we like a person or the fact that they agree with us. Sadly, that happens far too often. True respect for an opinion should come from the value of what supports it.