Subtitle: A personal and, I pray, honest reflection on my opinions.
I am an African American male in his late-sixties, born and raised in the midwestern United States of America to middle-class, Christian, college-educated parents (my father, the son of a Cuban émigré father and an African American mother, and both of my parents, Democratic Party activists immersed in the Civil Rights Movement), with college and graduate degrees, married-divorced-and-remarried, a father of a daughter, and a forty+ year vocation as an ordained Christian minister.
Is this all that I can say about myself? No. Still, it is enough to make this point…
Each of these self-characterizations or descriptions, indeed, realities or truths (i.e., race, sex, age, place of birth, family of origin, relational, economic, social, political, religious milieus, etc.) is as a seed in the fertile ground of my experience that bears the fruit of my opinions about life, its meaning, what’s right or wrong, good or bad, truth or falsehood, who I am and who I am not, and what I ought to do and not do.
Here, as one who believes in defining his terms, I digress…
My opinion is my judgment or conclusion about what is real or true; which, however, is based on evidence that I, honestly, cannot assert as universally certain; that is, clearly, undeniably real or true for all people at all times.(1)
This said, another individual necessarily can and will have opinions other than mine.(2)
This said, I perceive a danger whenever I come to believe that my opinions constitute reality or truth.(3) For then communication is not only difficult, but impossible. For rather than talk to or with others, I talk at (indeed, past) them. Even more, indeed, worse, I converse less and discuss more.(4)
This said, whenever I seek to converse with others about any subject (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, religion, politics, history, science), what if I suspended my belief that my opinions constituted reality or truth, which is another way of saying that I acknowledged my opinions are opinions?
If so, then I would have a better chance to hear them, to listen to them, to be open to their opinions and, thus, I would have a greater chance to learn something other than what I think or believe or know that I already know.
Well, truth is, this is my opinion.
(1) My opinions, therefore, are closely allied to my assumptions. From the Latin, adsumere (ad, “to” or “up” + sumere, “to take”) thus, “to take to” or “to take up” as in to have and to hold as real and true for myself.
(2) It is this innate distinctive difference between and among persons and, thus, their equally inherent differences of opinion that make communication (from the Latin, communicare, “to make common”) intrinsically difficult. For though we humans share a common humanity, we, one from the other, always are uncommon.
(3) Actually, and this is my opinion, whenever I believe that my opinions are universally real or true (as opposed to real or true only for me), what I am saying is that I believe that my opinions should be real or true for all people.
(4) Converse (from the Latin, conversare: con, “with” + versare, “to turn”, thus, to turn or to go with another) and discuss (from the Latin, discutere, “to strike” or “to break up”). Thus, it is no surprise that discussion and concussion have the same root!