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The Right To Form an Opinion
Someone close to me recently violated my trust. They did so in multiple ways over a very long time although I only found out a few days ago through a 3rd party. While they not only were spreading private information about me previously shared in confidence (a cardinal sin in my book), they actually crossed a much more sacred line to me: the right of others to form their own opinions.
Let me explain. What is real freedom? In an oppressed state, the most clear sign is the oppression of speech which is really the oppression of opinions and their free formation. The idea is control of thought which will silence opposing voices thus preventing revolution.
As a firm believer in free speech at the core of my values, I’ve always respected the right to forming your own opinion on subjects. It’s essential to not only political freedom, but personal freedom. How are you supposed to be your own person if you can’t form your own opinions freely?
I’ve always regarded myself as a gentleman and gentlemen do not participate in gossip. It is beneath them. I also take this belief one step further. Specifically: negative gossip about an individual that the recipient of said gossip personally knows or may someday know is tantamount to to character assassination and about as evil as genocide or treason. Why? It violates the rights of that person to form their own opinion freely from external influences.
Let’s have an example. When you get home from work, if you complain to your spouse about your coworkers, that’s one thing because she doesn’t interact with them on a daily/hourly basis. But complaining to another coworker about a 3rd party coworker is a matter entirely different because that may influence the individual that you are complaining about directly. It’s even worse if you are complaining to a potential new hire about the coworker because they may eventually have a relationship with that person and they haven’t even had a chance to form their own initial opinions yet.
Everyone has opinions and as opinions, they are all valid and should be respected. But they are powerful and can hurt people as well as damage or even end lives if someone is hurt enough through negative gossip.
Be careful about the things you say about others and respect the ability of people to form opinions. In the end, participating in gossip or spreading negativity only hurts yourself, your own credibility, and other people’s image of you. And preventing the free formation of opinion will never win over that of someone else.