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Gayle Nichol's picture

Own your opinions

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 15:44 -- Gayle Nichol

I’ve had a rash of phone calls and meetings in the last few months with people who want to “clarify” for me.

These calls generally come after a lively debate or discussion where I dwell on one side of an issue and the other party is on… well… the wrong side.

But this rather new phenomenon of calling me, or stopping by in the days following the discussion to meekly clarify, in an almost apologetic manner, has me disturbed.

Dialogue, debate and disagreement are fundamental to a progressive and free state. No one need ever apologize to me – not ever – for disagreeing with my position on an issue.

Apologize for petty personal attacks or base sarcasm in forcing your agenda, if you must. Those are weak tactics used by people who do not thoroughly understand or believe in the principles they are defending. But don’t feel the need to back off on a conviction simply because you don’t want to risk offending me or the jovial times we spend together.

I can take it. Even if I think you’re wrong.

I’m particularly concerned that these incidents of back-peddling seem to come from young people and other women. In some cases the individual has confessed to replaying the conversation continually in their mind, and in the replay they are afraid I’ll think badly of them for expressing themselves, their belief, or their political position.

They don’t want to hurt me.

They don’t want to hurt my perception of them.

They don’t want to “come across as a jerk”.

On this I am clear: Say what you mean, believe what you say, and don’t worry who thinks what about your convictions.

In today’s climate of social justice warriors whipping the online and in-person community into a frenzy of gang-mentality thinking, be the major supporter of your own thoughts. Don’t apologize if you stand left of right of anyone around you. Be clear. Be mindful. Speak clearly, but don’t raise your voice – always a challenge for me. You must speak freely the beliefs that are inherently your own – without apology, without fear or trepidation. Because your voice matters.

Support immigration or a wall. Join the #MeToo movement or speak out in support of men.  Be a voice for the environment or state your case for the inaccuracies of global warming.

You can confirm your belief in whatever you want. I may not agree with you, but I’ll always defend your right to state your case.

But don’t get stalled in talking to me or trolling on social media. Remember that where your viewpoint matters most is at the polls, and Ontario faces two elections this year on the municipal and provincial stage. Both Sarnia and Petrolia councils have faced some serious, divisive issues this term. And Ontario… well, there are many traditional Liberals facing some fundamentally challenging questions about the performance and trajectory of this province’s ruling party.

These issues will hopefully give rise to much debate and when you chime in, own your opinions.

Your views are exactly that. Yours. Vital to the greater debate that pushes a society forward. Progressive.

Own them.

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