Strong Opinions

I generally keep my strongest opinions to myself. It wasn’t always that way, but now I am a mild person in social intercourse; more interested in hearing your views than in expressing mine.

Some folks know how I feel about equal opportunity, economic safety nets, and turn signals (for); and Citizens United, high-cost college sports programs, and the radical right (against). I’m usually willing to discuss current events, political positions, human nature, but I don’t enjoy arguing.

So I was surprised to find myself a few days ago hammering relentlessly away at a friend with whom I rarely disagree. The point of contention doesn’t matter, except to say that it was minor. Some little switch in my mind was thrown, though, and I was in full-on debate mode. After several minutes of strengthening but not raised voices, we wound down.

Here is the interesting part: I was energized by the exchange and felt closer to my friend. I wonder if hanging back and not expressing my strong opinions does my friends and me a disservice? Is my mildness an overlay that masks my authenticity? Does a courteous, dissenting discussion allow you to see me more honestly than when I smile and slide away? Is it worth the risk … what have I got to lose?

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