Where Do You Get Your Opinions From?


A gentleman and long time reader of this column recently told me about a very revealing incident in his life. The story goes that he was having a friendly political discussion with a confirmed conservative, both sides expressing their opinions but having little luck in transforming the beliefs of the other.

The reader eventually realized that he was trying to show how his opinion was formed using the facts that he had garnered both by his own research and through this column, while the other gentleman was simply repeating his personal opinions over and over. Our hero, my reader, finally asked what facts the other had used as a foundation for his assumptions and was told, "I use my life's experiences to form my opinions!" When the reader stated that he formed his opinions only after acquiring facts, the other made the amazing accusation. "Oh. You must be one of those liberals who reads Cannon's stuff. Your kind just parrots whatever he tells you to say."

Now, when he related this story to me, I at first was at a complete loss as to what, exactly, that statement might mean. If the reader was basing his opinions on the information he found within these articles and the facts which he had searched out on his own while the other found all of that a matter which could be ridiculed because, apparently, he had no use for either the facts that this series provides nor the intention of acquiring any on his own, then my only question must be "what has happened to the idea of independent, intelligent thought in America?"

To base your opinions only on your life's experiences is, at best, a poor method of describing the world. The wealthy already claim that there is no hunger or homeless in America, it is only a liberal invention. The wealthy already claim that there are lots of jobs in America, so single mothers of small children should be required to work and, of course, can leave their children in the care of the nannies and maids which they must also employ. The wealthy already believe that each of us is free to buy as much justice and government as we can afford.

When I was with the Marines in Viet Nam, I became friends with a number of people, here and there. I distinctly remember one conversation, in particular, in which a village elder and I were talking about what our futures might entail. I spoke about trying to survive until I could rotate home and all of the wonderful things I was then going to do with my freedom and the family I would have and how rich I wanted to someday be.

He listened politely, asking questions here and there about the things I spoke of (such as what was a "hamburger" or "freeway" or "retirement" and the like). When I asked what he wanted out of the future, he answered, "To outlive the American's war in my country." This wasn't said as an insult or accusation, it was simply what he looked forward to. War had always been his "life's experience" and if he had been dropped into the 60's America these experiences would have totally useless to him (but of great value in 90's Corporate America).

The same is true for the experiences of each of us. What we have gone through on the way to who we have become can only be the groundwork for our future, not the engine that takes us there. Without a working knowledge of exactly what the world consists of, we are simply moving aimlessly, blindly and without direction. Without facts, we have ONLY our opinions and nothing else.

Our old friend Rush Limbaugh once said in a commercial for his show, "Stop trying to think. You will never be any good at it. Listen to me. I'll tell you what you need to know and what to think." (KFI radio commercial in the spring of 1995.)

I say, read and understand the information which I have found and happily pass along. If you care to learn more, I will tell you where my information came from and help you to seek wherever your path may take you. If you don't have faith in a nasty old "liberal" like myself, then trust your librarian. She or he will happily point you in the direction of knowledge. It's their job and passion. Then, and only then, should you have an opinion on anything. Faith may move mountains, but the mountain remains a fact.

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Write me at:jcannon@anotherperspective.org

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Copyright 11/15/97