How to Live at Peace in a Controversial World
There is a way out of the culture wars that plague our nations. Although it may feel like it, there hasn’t been a draft and you don’t need to enlist. There’s no need to dodge. You can stay where you are. Plant a garden. Raise a family.
It feels overwhelming to have an opinion about everything that’s going on. At one point in our history, it would have been understandable. But with the rate that information is increasing, there’s no way to be properly informed about every issue affecting our world.
So what are you to do when people want to know what you think?
It’s true. People want to hear from you. Some are genuinely curious about your opinion — but most want to know where you stand. The truth is both incredibly simple and profoundly liberating: you don’t need to have an opinion.
Three magical liberating words: I. Don’t. know.
You don’t need to make your mind up about everything. In fact, you can’t. And you shouldn’t trust people who won't admit how much they don’t know and how much they’re just not sure about.
When others ask you what you think about X, you have every right in the world to say, “I don’t know.” You don’t need to say anything else. It doesn’t say anything about you other than that you’re aware of the limits of your knowledge.
In a controversial world, you’re allowed to just not have an opinion.
This advice is not for everyone.
Some people are called to run for the front line — to head into the fray. Some people are passionate about this or that, and they feel a real calling — a burning in their soul to argue for X and fight for Y. That’s a great thing. If that’s you — then this advice isn’t really for you.
At least it’s not about that thing you’re called to fight for. But I’m sure there’s still some issue where you need to feel the freedom to say that you just. don’t. know.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have an opinion about things. I’m just saying that you don’t have to. Be free to fight or to flee.
Not all issues are of equal importance — and you are your brother’s and sister’s keeper.
This needs to be said. Not all issues are of equal importance. People that are suffering deserve someone to speak out for them — and the more the better. You are truly our brother’s and sister’s keeper. If not you, then who? Who will fight for people in poverty, slavery, and suffering from the effects of homophobia, sexism, racism, and hate?
Maybe it’s you. I don’t know.
While I’ll tell you to take a deep breath and reassure you that you don’t need to have an opinion, I’ll still encourage you to look with compassion toward those who are different from you and who are telling you of their suffering.
Be true to yourself.
I don’t expect you to do something that’s not in your heart to do. Pressuring people to have an opinion about something that they really don’t care about doesn’t help anyone. I’m comfortable with your lack of opinion because opinions don’t change anything anyway.
Opinions are just not that important. Action is. And I know that when your heart is captured with the needs of someone else, you won’t just think — you’ll act.
So stop worrying about having an opinion. Be free. Get comfortable saying, “I don’t know.” Instead, humbly create a better world right where you are. Leave Facebook and break up with Twitter. And if you want to change something, shut off your device and look into the eyes of a real person who is suffering.
Someone else started the culture wars. You didn’t start them and you don’t have to fight them. You can be true to what’s in your heart today — and commit to learning from, listening to, and loving the people around you.
You don’t have to have an opinion about everything. In fact, you shouldn't.