Opinions are like assholes. But haters ARE assholes.

There’s a difference between OPINION and HATE, and I think it’s time we drew the difference.

Tonight, an erudite and composed (yet justifiably irate) reader tweeted me, calling me out for what he considered was an ignorant remark on Vancouver’s drug clinics.  For years I’ve been privy to the rampant addiction in the city by hearsay from my Canadian friends, and being there this week, I experienced it firsthand.  I believe I properly educated myself on the issues surrounding the care of these addicts, and voiced my opinion - albeit accusatory - on my blog.

One of my followers by the name of Billy was pissed. How dare I speak on the matter?  I was wrong, and I was misinformed, and it was not only ignorant but careless for me to infer that the City was condoning the behavior and the illness.  We went back and forth - RESPECTFULLY and RESPECTABLY - and eventually agreed to disagree.  The reality is that as you get older, you realize that life isn’t so black and white, and that all those shades of grey are what classify us as individuals.  And it is up to you to voice that opinion, to stand firm in your beliefs, and fight for what’s right.  

Billy and I came away from that discourse as more enlightened human beings, a little bit smarter, a little more careful, and a lot more honest in our understanding of each other.  It was a practice in social awareness, and it’s a healthy daily ritual in progression.  And it’s all because he spoke up and left his comfort zone to confront me on something that meant a lot to him.  I get plenty of haters and their mindless drivel goes in one ear and out the other.  However, once in a blue moon, I get a Billy who knows what he’s talking about, knows how to talk about it, and more importantly, knows WHY he’s talking about it.  And Billy gets a response from me.

OPINION is a rarity these days.  Mere decades ago, our peers were literally dying for their causes, protesting in earnest, and suffering the consequences (jailtime, stigma) for it (See: The Weather Underground).  But today it’s about politicking and shmoozing and appeasement and, for the lack of a better word, dickriding.  It’s indicative of postmodernism’s rapture on the global consciousness.  The new millenium is about accepting everything, whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad, delicious or downright disgusting, because everyone is entitled to their opinion and therefore, everybody is correct.  And while that’s an ideal to be celebrated because it accommodates all, it leaves little room for critique and ultimately, betterment.

To make matters worse, in the year 2011, what we have in it’s place is HATE - and there is a marked difference there with OPINION.  HATE is fueled by jealousy and negativity.  OPINION is rooted in intelligence and analysis.  HATE is prompted by insecurity and ill will.  OPINION is blind, it’s goal is to further truth and understanding.  Two people walk away from HATE as worse people.  If played the right way, two people sharing opinions, leave the room inspired.

And so don’t just go around moronically LIKE-ing everything (thanks for dumbing us down, Facebook), or HATING everything - but instead, be like Billy.  QUESTION EVERYTHING, formulate a stance on important matters because they affect people’s lives, and more importantly, they affect yours.  Remember, if you’re not thinking for yourself, someone will do it for you.

Once you’ve determined where you stand, express it and be open to the dialogue that should ensue.  This is how things get better, this is how we keep it moving.  It’s not about hating and shutting down and spewing negativity, it’s about pushing each other to think a little bit harder and produce a little bit stronger.  

This is just my opinion.