I have been told on numerous occasions to ‘get off my soapbox.’ Stating your view was encouraged in my family, and my love of talking complemented this. But I recently had an instance where I seriously questioned my petulance to voice opinion. So I ask – when is it okay to speak up, and when is it better to shut the trap?
My first answer to this question was – when it doesn’t hurt anyone. Premeditated words aimed at hurt or destruction is as violent as physical attack. Let’s place these instances aside as something that should never happen.
So when to speak? I found this a really hard question to answer. There are so many sides to the argument.
I hate the thought that offence is taken at my opinion. But if we never speak for fear of offence, then there’s a good chance that we may never speak at all. There will always be someone who has a differing opinion (and this must also be respected).
I have also contemplated that if no one ever voiced opinion, what would become of our political system, social constraints or laws? It makes sense as humans to question things we don’t agree with. We have a natural predisposition to do so.
Then there is the argument against speaking out. We do live in a politically correct society. Our words could be interpreted as mentally unstable, or worse – discriminatory. What we say may could be misconstrued, or pegged as bigotry. Fear of this has to be an overwhelming deterrent. Not to mention, the foolishness of being drawn into a fruitless argument.
I think perhaps the answer lies in a relatively simple concept. You can respect something or someone, but not necessarily agree with what is represented or said.
I don’t think it’s completely unimaginable to love someone while disagreeing with their words or deeds. As parents we correct our children because we don’t agree with their behavior, but we still love them. We may not agree with a political party or organization, but we don’t set out to lynch their leaders. We don’t always agree with the way others live their lives, but we don’t hate them for it, and respect their right to live in peace and happiness.
So – when to speak? I’m thinking perhaps when we can extend both grace and opinion. What do you think?