If there is anyone out there who still isn’t reading Opinionated Man‘s excellent blog Harsh Reality then I recommend it to you. OM has come up with a project to investigate Opinions and it looks interesting. He has devised a template list of questions and asks for honesty in completing them. I have completed this questionairre and my answers are reproduced together with the questions below. If anything there causes offence to anyone then… well, tough. 🙂
Question 1: Please provide a window into who you are, some background information in a not too overwhelming profile here. I am allowing you as the writer to immediately connect with your audience so take advantage. Remember the point of ordering these questions is to arrange this project so it is easy for comparison and not to constrain you as the writer. Write as long as you need to for each question to get your point across just remember not to lose the reader.
- I am the father of five children, and grandfather to six. I grew up in a small town to parents who graduated from working to middle class. I have a small property portfolio and work as an electrician and solar pv installer. My wife works as an accountant. I have held many jobs down the years including a spell as a social worker. I hope one day soon to fulfil my ambition of writing full time, on my blog and on a novel project – at least as soon as my wife earns enough to support us all. 🙂
Question 2: If you haven’t already done so please provide your country of origin, whether you are male or female, an age would be nice, and where you currently live if that differs from the country of origin. If you are in America this might be a nice time to explain what state you are from. Also try to give us a brief view of your current neighborhood and what it is like in as specific terms as you like. Why is this important? I believe our surroundings and where we come from have a strong impact on our development of opinions. It would also be highly likely that depending on the safety of the country might also determine how willing one is to express their opinions aloud. Does sex also have something to do with this, as well as age? These are all characteristics that can definitely affect a person’s outlook.
- I was born in the south of England in the New Forest. I am 47 years old and still live within thirty miles of the place where I was born. I live in a nice neighbourhood of detached houses and bungalows close to a river bank. The area is regarded as affluent and people move to this area just because the schools nearby are excellent. The crime statistics in my area are generally extremely low, but we have been unfortunate enough to have been burgled twice in the last two years. The majority of my neighbours are retired.
Question 3: Recount the first time you remember having a differing opinion from someone significantly older than you. Do you remember what the topic was about? Did you voice your opinion or hold it to yourself?
- The first time I recall having a different opinion to someone significantly older than myself was probably when I reached secondary school, around 11 or 12 years of age. At this time I began to form my own opinions about a number of things, but I wouldn’t say that healthy debate was encouraged. It was because my school had significant discipline problems with the students that I felt sufficiently emboldened to openly defy and argue with the teachers. This was in part because I saw others doing so, but also because I had begun to read newspapers and formulate my own views. I was fortunate that my father bought newspapers that supported opposing political views and I was exposed to multiple points of view on the various news stories of the day.
Question 4: What levels of respect were practiced around you when you were a child? Was there bowing involved, handshakes, “yes Sirs and yes Ma’ams,” or some other equivalent respectfulness in your culture’s tongue? Is an honorific given to someone older than you and do you often respect and practice that? How might the culture you were brought up in have affected the growth of your own opinions?
- My home was quite an informal place in most respects. There was no enforcement of any automatic respect based on age, or title for that matter. My father was ‘Dad’ and my mother was ‘Mum’ and the rest of us just had names. Respect was more about not arguing with my parents and never, ever swearing in their presence. I recall from a young age I had a highly developed sense of justice and would happily accept what came my way provided it seemed to be fair and in proportion.
Question 5: How travelled are you and to what degree do you keep up with international news? You might also provide an educational background if you wish and if that education was gained from somewhere other than your current location. How available is the news and what goes on in the outside world to you in your country?
- I am not as well travelled as I would like due to financial constraints, but I have managed to visit several countries in Europe as well as the continents of Africa, North and South America.
My formal education ceased at 18, although I have dipped my toe in further education at various times throughout my life.
Through marrying a foreign national I have become very aware of how the presentation of a news story will vary from one country to another depending on that countries interests and allegiances. I try to keep an eye on major stories breaking around the world through the internet, television and newspapers. I try to always remember that the news I am receiving is filtered through the prism of journalistic and editorial bias.
Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.
- I have for several years been deeply troubled by the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli state. It beggars my belief that a people such as the Jews, who having experienced such unimaginable cruelty in recent history, could be capable of treating another group of human beings in such an appalling way.
Question 7: What does the right to an opinion mean to you? Is it essential to freedom to have this right? How far would you go to protect that ability? The world is on fire with people of passion, how passionate are you about things you value?
- For reasons unknown to me, I seem to be far more likely to stand up for someone else’s rights than I am to champion my own causes. I regret to say that I think this is something of a national trait amongst us Britons.
Question 8: Is it ever right for you to be allowed an opinion while someone else is denied that same right on the same topic?
- I am tempted to say no, and yet upon reflection I can think of situations where I would argue that this is entirely necessary. I believe very strongly that for certain categories of prisoner the right to vote should continue to be with-held. This is an opinion that is at odds with the European Union which is seeking to force the UK to change its current legislation to allow prisoner voting. I believe that some crimes are so serious that the offender should forfeit any right to participate in the democratic election of our government. I would argue that we have so many people in prison any political party prepared to offer concessions to this section of the population would have many extra votes with one line on a manifesto. Criminals who have stepped outside the covenant of society should not get to dictate law and order reform.
Question 9: The last question. Upon completing this template and hopefully contemplating the issue what does this project mean to you? How can Project O potentially enlighten or help the world?
- For me Project O is about my fascination with understanding what makes people tick. Fear and prejudice are rooted in what we do not know or understand. Communication of ideas and the dialogue that can ensue are the keys to enlightenment. If we better understand the factors that influence decision making in others then we are better equipped to accept the opinions that have been shaped by those experiences.