Ever since the dawn of Man, someone has had an opinion about someone else. Opinions are just like mosquitoes, there whether one likes them or not. For some reason, this very abstract word has high-reaching consequences. One thing about opinions is that everyone has them, and whether a person chooses to infringe on another with his or her opinion is often a mark of the strength of that opinion—not its merit, but the emotional attachment to it, and the motivation of the speaker. If a line of people stood a mile long and were questioned about their opinions on just about anything, be it same-sex marriage, football or another topic, the responses garnered would be diverse in both content and emotional strength. The correctness of same-sex marriage is not unique in that regard.
There are people who have opinions about everything—that someone’s hair needs cutting, their manners or speech need improving or even that the food another eats is “weird.” Immigrants should be “like us.” Immigrants should retain their cultural identities. We all once were immigrants. These all are opinion (though the latter may be closest to fact).
Everyone has their comfort zone. The thing is, just how uncomfortable does a person have to get before their opinions so greatly intrude on others that a line between “my side” and “your side” has been crossed?
It sometimes seems those with the strongest and loudest opinions are those who are least comfortable with their world, or with their place in it. One notices that people who go about their own business with a “live-and-let-live” attitude are often calmer, more grounded, and frequently are where they want to be in most senses of the word. If one like’s oneself, including not just inner qualities but exterior circumstance, then there is not too much cause for complaint. Is “opinion” then just another word for “complaint”?
“Opine” comes from the same Latin word as “opinion,” opinari, which means to think or believe. One thing no one can argue with is that neither “think” nor “believe” suggests any basis for fact. So when a woman’s older sister tells her she needs a haircut, or a right-wing, Christian Republican (or Muslim, or Jew, or atheist) says same-sex marriage should be banned or is “unholy,” these statements are just another in a long line of opinions—as is this article. There is no basis in fact for whether or not someone needs to cut their hair, just as there is no basis in fact that marrying within one’s gender, which comes from loving someone of one’s gender, is unnatural. If it was unnatural, how could Nature, God, whatever one calls it, have created the tendency in so many people?
17 U.S. states currently “allow” same-sex marriage, while 10 recognize unions and partnerships. Other states outright ban the practice, limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. Does banning or limiting a practice stop people from loving one another and having children? Did telling the Jews they should not exist wipe them off of the face of the Earth? Opinions cause family feuds, the break-up of friendships, loss of employment and even war. In fact, and this is an opinion that may well be fact, opinion is very likely the major cause of every war, past and present.
It is not as simple as that. It is impossible to believe that one day a war will be happening and the next, either side will recognize that what is happening is they thought they were right, and the “other” was wrong. But the issue of the correctness (or not) of same-sex marriage truly is just another in a very long, very tiresome set of opinions. If nobody had one, there would be no issue.
Opinion by Julie Mahfood
Follow Julie Mahfood on Twitter @Julie11153717