Home > Life, Writing and Poetry > Opinions and Their Use

Opinions and Their Use

I had a really good piece going here this morning on op-ed pieces and the impact they can have nationwide. I deleted it before I posted it. Why, you ask?

I deleted because it had become the very thing I was attempting to bring to light in some ways, and it also became something of which I could never take pride. Thankfully, I caught myself in time to prevent a possible hurt.

Instead, I want to talk about two things today. They look to have nothing to do with each other and yet, they depend on each other in a very subtle sense. I’ll tie them up at the end, so bear with me.

I’ve been studying Eckhart Tolle lately and have been reading Dr. Wayne Dyer for a long time. In essence they advocate the same philosophy; that of personal awareness and spiritual growth through the elimination of the ego, a very tall order indeed.

As everyone knows, the ego is the mind’s unconscious; that portion that acts as our autopilot of action and reaction, the initiator of emotional response to the outside world, the protector of the self.

Lofty goals, don’t you think? According to the above philosophers, however, the ego also prevents personal spiritual growth for it confines the self to the learned patterns of behavior and reaction that keep the ego in control. Also, by doing so, it keeps FEAR in control of one’s life. Tolle remarks that the ego is actually the personification of FEAR, or words to that effect.

That statement reminds me of something from many years ago. I had a student and friend back in the early nineties who had a final essay due for his last comp class. I had been tutoring him all term along with several others. One evening he brought his effort to me for one last going over before final copy.

His piece dealt with the concept that FEAR acted as the driver for all other emotion, except for LOVE. His stance was that without LOVE, FEAR ran the show. In other words, all emotions, other than LOVE, were only expressions of FEAR in disguise. Reason; LOVE doesn’t allow for FEAR. Henry gave the following  examples, among others.

Greed is only the FEAR that one doesn’t already have enough, will never have enough of whatever is being gathered to the individual.

Selfishness is only the FEAR that someone else might want/take what the individual already has or what is available to the individual.

Hate is only the FEAR the individual allows him/herself to express b/c (s)he doesn’t LOVE him/herself. This couples with the FEAR that (s)he will never be loved, so that hatred of others is excusable.

Terror is the FEAR of being harmed or taken advantage of or made less b/c we are alone.

You see how this operates as a philosophy. My point is that without having read either of these gentlemen or the Tao Te Ching, Henry came to this conclusion on his own. BTW, he was a powerful writer and one of the brightest people I’ve ever known.

Henry took a simple yet grossly complex concept and wrote an essay that belled the sails on his instructor’s boat. My contribution to it was a punctuation check. That was it.

I hear fiction writers occasionally talk about the fact that writing essays and other literary pieces are just beyond their abilities or that such work is not fulfilling enough for them. Is that FEAR talking? I admit, I don’t understand that belief. I suppose it results from the fact that when I went through school, we started learning to write essays in fifth grade, along with research papers. They were emphasized in high school where we read everything from Homer, Plato, and Socrates to the Russian writers Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Turgenev. We don’t even want to go into the plays from ancient Greek and Roman to Chekov and Ibsen. Sorry, I guess we did.

The reasoning for this immersion into the world’s classics and deepest thinkers was simple. We were meant to be able to form our own opinions based on the information available and the philosophies that were best applied to the situation and subject. That’s what we were being groomed for. We weren’t told that in so many words, but the implications were clear. Critical thinking skills and problem-solving were major components in every class, regardless of subject. Even study hall held meaning, though few every got the drift on that one, I have to admit.

For those who write fiction do write essays  in a different form, though they probably don’t realize it. Every time one of their characters spouts off about something close to their heart, an opinion about some event within the body of the story, their feelings about how someone else was treated, the writer is exposing a piece of his/her own convictions, opinions, or attitudes. The disguise of dialogue, soliloquy, etc. allows the writer  expression without censure, except in the most extreme cases.

I write fiction, too. It’s a great platform for venting all of those pesky little opinions that could get me in trouble in the material world. For those writers who haven’t tried their hand at essay form, it costs only a little time to take a stab at it. Think of it as journal entries. After all, that’s really all they are when the dust of finality settles.

Whether the essay takes the form of an op-ed piece, journal entry, literary edification, or fictional story,  personal opinions are everywhere. Our use of them depends on our intent and our emotional state at the time of the writing. Each writer determines the intent of use based on the emotional state of the moment.

Hence the reason behind my deletion of the piece I’d planned to post today. The state at the time of writing was more fiery and wild than today’s more reflective one. I’d prefer not to set people’s fire alarms off today, thank you.

So, what does that have to do with LOVE and FEAR and today’s philosophers? It has everything to do with discovering one’s emotional state during the writing process and the use to which it’s slated. It has to do with the writer knowing whether FEAR plays a part in what is produced and if so, why? What is there to FEAR? Is it FEAR of not writing well enough to satisfy some editor, teacher, critic? Is it FEAR of writing in a new genre or for a new publication? Is it FEAR that everyone who ever said that the writer didn’t have any talent, promise, or ability just might be right? Or, is the writer writing because LOVE of language and expression guides the hand and production of the story or article.

Each of us has the opportunity to determine that answer before beginning to write. It can be a joyous experience or a dreaded chore; all based on our emotional state at the moment, all determined by our awareness of ourselves and our motivations. And our opinions can help to educate, formulate, eradicate based on how they’re presented and to whom. Amazing, isn’t it, that we have this massive power available to us, our power to control when we choose.

Here’s hoping all of your writing has purpose and flare, if only for humor’s sake; for joyful humor is a close cousin to LOVE.


Categories: Life, Writing and Poetry
  1. December 11, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Hi Clauds,

    I write hoping someone will read;
    I write hoping someone will understand;
    I write hoping that I fully remember;
    I write hoping that I do justice to the memory;
    I write hoping to learn.

    I have noticed something quite interesting:
    My prose is always fiction rooted in the concept of an alternate reality; a preview of a possibility; an experiential journey.
    My verse more often than not is a reflection of reality; my reality; an experienced distilled and served up on a service platter; an introspection journey.
    My essay is a snapshot hoping to convey a conclusion; a strategized piece of writing; an intellectual journey.

    With all the focus on “Show don’t tell” such that I may gain mastery as a story teller, I have shifted my efforts completely to prose and verse. They are novel and interesting in comparison to the Essay form learned at school.

    I would say that my decision was guided by LOVE for mastery of prose and verse as opposed to FEAR of writing an ineffective essay.


  2. December 15, 2009 at 7:23 pm


    All our writing is coloured by our emotions in one way or the other. I usually write about things that make me angry. I jot my original idea and then let it simmer for a while. I find that this helps me a lot to come to terms with the emotion before I start writing the draft.

    Thanks for such an insightful piece today!


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