It’s human nature to express an opinion. I don’t know how else we can communicate with one another. To say almost anything is to state an opinion. “I’m fine.” “Beautiful day.” “It’s cold out today.” “I like the new look.”
But there is expressing an opinion and being opinionated which is defined by one dictionary as “unduly adhering to one’s own opinion or to preconceived notions.” It all comes down to that little word “unduly.”
The author of Proverbs gives this wise bit of advice, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” – Proverbs 10:19. If I can just remind myself of this principle perhaps it will keep me from crossing the line from prudent to unduly.
In July of 1915 C. S. Lewis was only 17 years old. In a letter to his father, Albert, he informs his dad that the hot topic being bantered about among his friends and the general public was World War I. As happens in any culture during a war, everyone was talking about it. The causes leading up to war, the purposes behind it, goals and objectives, and most important the politicians overseeing the conflict. The criticism of the statesmen annoyed Lewis:
“I have always thought it ridiculous for people to talk so much on a subject of which, in the majority of cases, they are really very ignorant. Books, art, etc., passing trivialities and even gossip are topics on which everyone can speak with more or less authority. We prefer however to pass our time in criticism of politics, or at present the war—subjects on which only specialist should speak. This endless criticism by ignorant men and women of public men, whose positions they do not understand, I always hear with annoyance.”1
Ouch. Just because I have the right to say something does not necessitate I should.
“Fools have no desire to learn; they would much rather give their own opinion” – Proverbs 18:2, Contemporary English Version.
1. Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Family Letters 1905-1931, Vol I (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 136-137.