Is there anyone more irritating than someone who has no opinion?
There cannot be. Although, for some reason they always manage to find me in a crowded room.
Project O is an initiative meant to raise awareness on the importance having an opinion.
Why do you have them?
Where do they come from?
Why should anyone care?
It was started by a great blogger on Harsh Reality aka Opinionated Man. Pop over and have a look see.
He very kindly provided a template for other opinionated people to complete in an effort to define why we are the way we are.
Here is mine…
Question 1: Please provide a window into who you are, some background information in a not too overwhelming profile here.
Not a professional liar, that’s a bit of a stretch, I work in advertising, so depending on your point of view I could be.
Not perfect, but deeply flawed in a way I hope is endearing rather than annoying. I once was perfect, when I was about 18 and believed it, now I just try to muddle along as a mother, daughter, wife and woman.
Not comfortable in a box, unless it is the TARDIS in which case we can talk.
Not nice. Anything but nice. Nice is so… beige.
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.
Although I was born here and lived most of my life here I am beginning to think it is not really my home, just somewhere I happen to live.
Itchy feet, that’s what I have.
I live in a neighbourhood of Johannesburg, the city of gold, in a suburb that was forgotten sometime in the mid 1970s and has yet to move on.
I say this because I actually know my neighbours, the guy who runs the local supermarket and whose dogs belong where.
I did not play an important role in the end of Apartheid, I was at a non racial school happily shielded from the emergency passports, the phone tap and the rise and fall of the National Party.
As a post-Apartheid adult I believe the social structure of the country has changed for the better, but am disappointed to see how absolute political power corrupts idealism absolutely.
I am the child of immigrants, the descendant of Scottish settlers in the Western Cape and the daughter of a British war baby whose father was demobbed here in 1945.
I am the product of soldiers, farmers, writers, historians, journalists, academics and assorted eccentrics.
Question 3: Recount the first time you remember having a differing opinion from someone significantly older than you.
It was the case of The Pink Panther. I was 9 and I had to knit a Pink Panther for school. For some reason or another I refused.
I was told in no uncertain terms that if no Pink Panther was produced my knitting needles would go on display at the Parents’ Evening.
Various other mothers called to offer their knitting expertise.
Everyone was very concerned about the missing Pink Panther.
I could not have been more sanguine. I realised there was very little anyone could do to me, I was happy to accept my punishment as long as it meant I would never ever ever have to knit the stupid Pink Panther.
It was extremely empowering and marked the day I realised the only power others had over me was that which I gave them. I never knitted the Pink Panther and yet still I managed to complete my schooling and go to university.
Question 4: What levels of respect were practiced around you when you were a child?
My first memories of school are of learning how to curtsey. Every morning and afternoon we’d line up to curtsey to our teacher. It seems quite quaint now, but it was an important ritual in showing respect to your elders.
My parents did not subscribe to the school of thought that all older people became honorary Aunts and Uncles. That honorific was reserved for actual family members. So everyone was Mr or Mrs So-and-so.
Perhaps it is why I respond so poorly to people who shorten my name assuming a level of intimacy I cannot abide.
These tend to be telesales agents who start off with Mrs, move smoothly on to my first name and then proceed to shorten it into annoying little pet names.
Anyway, these days I am known as So-and-so’s Mum most of the time.
Question 5: How traveled are you and to what degree do you keep up with international news?
I am far more interested in international news than in local news. I read the local news sites more for entertainment than actual facts. I get a kick of Zombie Musician Rises from the Dead headlines.
Also my local news is just too depressing for words – murder, fraud, crime and government ineptitude.
I am far more likely to get a better bead on things at home from international news sources not concerned with political allies and the secrecy bill. It all sounds quite banal, but the world is a smaller place and the butterfly flapping its wings causes a much bigger hurricane than it ever did before.
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 am most concerned with the erosion of civil liberties in the name of freedom and security.
I fear that we have placed enormous power in the hands of a few to determine our future, our freedom, our lives and in the case of the armed services, our deaths.
We’d like to believe our governments are answerable to us, but in truth they are not.
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?
It is not so much the right to an opinion as much as the right to the education, experiences and knowledge to allow one to confidently form, shape, mould and share that opinion that is important.
I was once a passionate advocate of just about any cause you could name. It was exhausting. These days I look a little closer to home. It is affects my family, my children, my home, I will pour my passion into it.
I can’t change my little corner of the world by having an opinion.
I can change it by sharing my opinion. I can change it by taking action. I can change it by making sure I listen and understand other people’s opinions. And with the knowledge that they may differ and are still no less worthy of my respect.
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 not sure anyone is ever denied the right to an opinion, just perhaps the means to voice it. No-one allows me to have an opinion, but they may try to stop me from sharing it.
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?
Individuals have power. Words have power. Actions have power.
When so many people live in environments where due to poverty, government, religion or age they are disempowered, who are we to turn our heads and say “It’s not my problem”.
Whose problem is it if not yours?
You can look at the tiny shrouds over the children gassed in Syria and hope that it will never happen where you live.
But hope is not a strategy.
Look for answers.
Save one starfish.