I found myself on the receiving end of a nasty email directed at the Southern Standard a few days ago. The woman writing was highly irritated and deeply offended because a columnist in our newspaper had expressed an opinion that's different from hers.
There's no need to go into specifics about the views of the columnist, or the angry email writer, but it's sufficient to say they were different. So what's exactly the big deal? When did the act of voicing a different opinion become so heinous.
The newspaper column appeared on this very page, which clearly has "Opinions" written across the top. For columns on this page, the idea is to take a topic, form an opinion on it, and then convey that opinion in a well-written article.
What I don't understand is how it has become such a criminal offense for someone to have an opinion that differs from yours. The column we published wasn't mean-spirited or condescending. It simply stated an opinion I'm sure a number of people share.
By the same token, it's safe to say there are people who don't share this opinion. And that's OK too. It's fine to disagree, and I even suggested to the upset lady she could write a letter to the editor stating the value of her views. But that idea was dismissed in favor of mindless name calling and spurts of anger.
Stan St. Clair touched on this subject in his column in Sunday's edition where he talked about the value of independent thinking. The column was a great read.
Stan quoted politician Ben Carson as saying, "If two people think the same thing about everything, one of them isn’t necessary."
I've used a similar phrase over the years that goes, "I've never learned anything from someone who agrees with me." I don't know the origin of this quote and Google listed more than one source.
A Gallup poll released last month revealed only 20% of Americans say they are satisfied with the direction of the country. A deadly virus sweeping the nation, issues with law enforcement, and widespread protests are all reasons for alarm and dissatisfaction.
But some of the unrest is likely because we've lost touch with the basic principles on which the United States was founded.
We are supposed to have freedom of expression and the refreshing ability to form our own opinions. We are not supposed to think exactly the same and blindly follow the orders of a king. The ability to decide how we want to think and how we want to live is, in my estimation, the greatest attribute to living in America.
It's called freedom and it's something many people in other parts of the world have never experienced or enjoyed.
Instead of writing the newspaper and hollering for an apology for expressing an opinion, I think it would help a great many of us to remember that's why we're here in America in the first place.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.