Tag Archives: Leo Baeck

An opinion, quoth the writer, nothing more

It’s been some time since my last post, attributable to the mere fact that I’ve had nothing to say. For the sake of giving the appearance of being amongst you I have therefore begun writing this…..

It’s of considerable amazement to me that anybody should be interested in anything I have to say. Of all the blogs out there it’s a wonder anyone finds this one, and yet increasing numbers appear to be visiting. The world is now, in the space of only three decades, so filled with opinions that it’s impossible even to have small talk with a total stranger at the checkout line of the supermarket without having to hear his or her opinions on a wide range of subjects, few of which if any falling into any category remotely resembling a subject in which he or she has any knowledge or expertise.

The television simply had to go. Everytime I turned it on I was assaulted, as I recall it now, by a barrage of opinions, for the most part badly stated, which should not really, of itself, disqualify them from consideration, often completely impertinent, but mostly unflatteringly self revealing. There appears to be a widescale tendency to believe that the more scathing the opinion the more perspicacious or intelligent the utterer. I felt soiled, complicit, guilty, merely for hearing, those words resonating inside me like some potential sickness.

“In the multitude of words there is much sin.” (No, I won’t provide the source, look it up for yourselves. This is the interfreakingnet after all.) I can fully appreciate why some groups seeking spiritual harmony or enlightenment employ the vow of silence. They hope they can get through an entire day without offending either God or man, and certainly they have some grounds for such hope. The less said the better. The tongue is a world of iniquity and can’t be tamed. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, which can be a very unattractive thing. (I’m paraphrasing here. Again, look it up for yourselves.)

Einstein, it is said, was completely mute for the first few years of his life, finally uttering a few well chosen words of complaint. “Why have you not spoken until now?” his family quizzed him. “There was no cause for complaint until now,” was his alleged response. Nobody seems to know whether this story is true, but it serves to illustrate some point or other which I thought I may or may not have been trying to make. I’m tired of having opinions and expressing them, and I’m tired of hearing everybody else’s opinions on every irritatingly inconsequential thing.

Sometimes, in the midst of forming up an opinion on the hop, having been forced by some provocative statement I should have ignored, I find myself examining me, inwardly shaking my head in despair. My mother would censoriously accuse me of being opinionated whenever I disagreed with her, and perhaps for this reason, her voice still echoing judgementally in my psyche, I am particularly aware of the opinionator on the outside of me which incessantly and continuously tries to burrow its way into my head with its arrogant, haughty observations and conclusions. Consequently, despising myself for even having an opinion of the opinionator for whom I have nothing but contempt, I find that there is very little to say. Here are some quotes about opinions I quite like….

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
Oscar Wilde

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”
Bette Davis

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
Harlan Ellison

“Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all the time.”
Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social enviroment. Most people are incapable of forming such opinions.”
(Essay to Leo Baeck, 1953)”
Albert Einstein

“Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.”
Joseph Joubert

“There are a great many opinions in this world, and a good half of them are professed by people who have never been in trouble.”
(The Mill)”
Anton Chekhov, The Portable Chekhov

“One sticks to an opinion because he prides himself on having come to it on his own, and another because he has taken great pains to learn it and is proud to have grasped it: and so both do so out of vanity.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

“I’m not sure I want popular opinion on my side — I’ve noticed those with the most opinions often have the fewest facts.” ― Bethania McKenstry

“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not entirely absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.”
― Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals

Anyway, if anyone is still reading this and hasn’t given up trying to fathom my point, I shall deliver a little presentiment troubling me of late, and having nothing to do with anything hitherto discussed, to the effect that something big, something very big, is about to happen. I wonder whether other people have sensed it too. Something monumental is about to take place in the world which will change everything forever.

I just thought I’d throw that in there, but hey, it’s probably only a matter of opinion.

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