Please read each of the following ten statements thoughtfully and carefully:
- All semi-automatic weapons should be banned.
- Jesus is coming back tomorrow.
- One of the presidential candidates in the 2016 election was clearly better than the other one.
- Abortion should be legal in every circumstance.
- Businesses should stay out of politics.
- The church should stay out of politics.
- Hollywood should stay out of politics.
- Every woman who claims #MeToo is telling the truth.
- Government is too big.
- Social media has been disastrous.
Each of the above has been averred at sometime, somewhere, by someone, passionately, emphatically, on social media or elsewhere — maybe even on the Intramuralist.
Here’s the challenge: each of the above is an opinion.
Let’s be clear. An opinion is “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter.”
Let me add two more relevant definitions. First, a preference is the act of “liking better or best.” And second, a conviction is “the state of being convinced.”
In other words, a preference is a liking; an opinion is a judgment or belief; and a conviction is a certainty — it’s something I’d die for.
For example, I like Purdue basketball; I believe they are incredibly talented this year; but as much as I want them to — and have convinced myself that it is going to happen — there is no guarantee that Purdue will win the NCAA tournament; it is not certain.
The challenge exists, though, when I state the above — stating my strong preference and opinion — as something it is not; it is not conviction. As much as I might want my beloved Boilermakers to be standing amidst the falling confetti when “One Shining Moment” is played, my passion and resolve do not make my opinion more certain.
And that’s where our intelligence gets in the way. We think we’re smart; we think we know what’s right; we think we’ve got it all figured out. So we approach things smartly — not wisely.
Wisdom and intelligence are two totally different things. Intelligence is smarts, brains, and mental capacity. But wisdom is something more. Wisdom adds discernment, self-awareness, and sensitivity toward others.
As thus said frequently in my household, wisdom is more important than intelligence. I may have a son with a cognitive disability who doesn’t score exceptionally well on standard IQ tests, but that same son is incredibly, incredibly wise. Wisdom is always more important.
It is only via wisdom, friends, that we learn the difference between preference, opinion, and conviction. Hence, if we could learn that — if we could be a wise people — our conversations, relationships, and even social media status would be far better… and far more respectful of all those around us.