Very often, the first thing you see in a situation doesn’t define it well. You think you’re dealing with a certain issue, but the real issue is hiding behind the one that shows up first. Maybe several layers behind.
Current example, I have found myself bucking hard against opinions over the last several weeks and months – unsolicited, random opinions in particular. I have become more and more outspoken about my notion that opinions are the lowest form of human communication. Opinions are like body odor to me: we all have them and we should avoid airing them onto others.
Why such contempt for opinions? Well, I thought it’s because I see opinions as nothing more than preferences. Your preference isn’t right or wrong. It’s just a preference. My preference isn’t right or wrong, either. It’s just another opinion. Weighing and reacting to opinions is a royal waste of time. I am highly protective of my life energy, so I avoid spending any mental or physical energy on futile exercises. I recommend the same for you.
But that’s not the whole story either. I’ll dive a LOT deeper than that, so come with me if you can handle it. I say that because getting to the deeper issue will get too personal and likely uncomfortable. It’s actually not personal opinions that I dislike reacting or responding to. It’s the ego hiding behind it. It’s the egocentric expectation that an opinion should somehow change what the recipient thinks, says, or does. It’s the egocentrism that is unable to acknowledge that there are myriad opinions and preferences and there isn’t one correct one. It’s the self-centered attempt to rid the world of anything one person doesn’t like or prefer or appreciate – at least the small sliver of the world that person occupies.
In Christian teaching, the ego is our enemy. The ego represents the false-face we develop and present to the world – our avatar, if you will. Following Jesus *requires* a complete turning away from the self-serving ego in order to follow the way of Love. Where ego seeks to satisfy itself and to defend itself and to grow itself in the view of others, humility seeks the exact opposite. We cannot feed our ego and our faith at the same time. We cannot follow our ego and Christ-in-us at the same time.
So, it’s not your opinion I’m bucking. It’s your ego.
If egocentric opinions are unwanted and unhelpful, then what does a humble opinion look like and is it more desirable? It looks more like constructive feedback. It considers the whole group, not just one person’s preference. It is offered only when requested for the purpose of growth, not thrown out unsolicited like a belch to relieve one’s personal need to release noxious gas. Constructive feedback is just that: constructive. It builds others. It builds communities. Humility is necessary in any community context because humility embraces its own transformation while the ego desperately resists it.