Why it's Important to Start Speaking Up
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Politics and Activism

Why it's Important to Start Speaking Up

Revolutionising The World Through Our Words

Gaines-Ross, Leslie. “Is It Safe for CEOs to Voice Strong Political Opinions?” Harvard Business Review, 23 June 2016, hbr.org/2016/06/is-it-safe-for-ceos-to-voice-strong-political-opinions.

A fact is objective. It can be impartially verified, established and disproved. But opinions are subjective. They are beliefs or perspectives that are upheld independently by every person and are susceptible to change. An opinion is a view that is formed by an individual and it held onto, in spite of having the incapability to be proven right or wrong. You can't prove that a piece of art is beautiful or whether God exists. All of these questions can never provide us with a definite answer; they can only provide us with clarity on which the more respected belief is in the eyes of the masses. The allure of opinions is that for every single one, there are multiple ways to approach it and perceive it. This is something that cannot be done with a fact - a piece of information for which credibility can be established or invalidated.

For a second, think about any change that has taken place. Whether minor or major, personal or political, recent or archaic. Where would we be today if an opinion hadn't shaped an action and brought about change? We wouldn't have access to half the things we're so accustomed to. Sir Tim Lee-Berners wouldn't have created the 'World Wide Web', a universe of network-accessible information. Dwight D. Eisenhower wouldn't have delivered his speech which led to the creation of the NPT. What would our lives be like if someone had not wanted to elicit a change? Definitely very different to what they are today.

Our opinions certainly define us. Not only are opinions important to evoke change but also shape us as individuals and help society progress. Without an opinion, what are we but faces in the crowd? Had someone not had a different way of looking at things, society would never have progressed. Had we, as a nation, been a politically repressed country, freedom of speech would be greatly limited. Take North Korea, for example. As "a dictatorship of people's democracy", technically, their ideology should be about putting the betterment of society as a whole before the needs of an individual. Contradictorily, the citizens of North Korea are censored and their thoughts aren't heard. Hye Won, a woman who managed to flee North Korea, said, "I can study whatever I want, whereas college students in North Korea can study only what the North Korean regime allows them to study. I can even learn stuff that criticizes the South Korean government, which is impossible in North Korea. Freedom is what I appreciate most." It's not that people in North Korea don't have opinions, they just lack the power to voice them.

Not only is it important for every individual to maintain their opinions but also to accept that their opinions are not infallible. When someone expresses their opinion, they are likely to be countered. Changing your opinion or being influenced by a stronger opinion doesn't make you any weaker but rather, more accepting of change. It takes as much power to change your opinion as it does to voice one. We need the opinions of others to challenge us and make us question whether what we stand for is right.

So, what would the world be like without opinions and how would we, as individuals, function? While having an opinion is likely to get you into trouble in certain situations, society, as a whole, needs opinions to progress. Even though it may not always seem that way. While the world may not always value or need our singular opinions, we, as individuals, will always rely on our own opinions and the power to voice them in order to develop our own identities and flourish. Society, as a construct, is more than the sum of its parts. It consists of a group of individuals and if these individuals have the power to improve society through their opinions, there is no other way to make our world a progressively better place.

References (MLA 8):

"Are We All Entitled to Our Own Opinions?" Paul Blaschko, paul-blaschko.squarespace.com/blog/2017/4/4/are-we-all-entitled-to-our-own-opinions, Accessed on 22nd Sep 2019.

"Communism and Computer Ethics." Communism: Censorship and Freedom of Speech, cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/cs201/projects/communism-computing-china/censorship.html, Accessed on 22nd Sep 2019.

Lloyd, John. "'Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World', by Timothy Garton Ash." Financial Times, Financial Times, 3 June 2016, www.ft.com/content/f7aa4470-27f8-11e6-8ba3-cdd781d..., Accessed on 22nd Sep 2019.

Gaines-Ross, Leslie. "Is It Safe for CEOs to Voice Strong Political Opinions?" Harvard Business Review, 23 June 2016, hbr.org/2016/06/is-it-safe-for-ceos-to-voice-strong-political-opinions, Accessed on 22nd Sep 2019.

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