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Opinions During This Politcal Season and Always



I didn't plan to be reading Richard III during this election season.  But, since we're here, it's hard not to draw parallels and comparisons to the current political climate. Richard is a master of spin. Shakespeare presents this amazing ability of Richard's and we can hardly believe it ourselves - how can he do this? How does he get people to buy into his schemes?  Such a fascinating lesson for all of us, I think. And we're only on Act II. It's interesting to ask the students what they think of Richard and to hear their opinions.

Well-thought-out opinions are a major theme in a Mason education.  This whole process produces discerning, informed citizens. Rather important in any day and age.  I remember the first time I read that she thought having a just opinion was akin to saving a life.  She said, "The person who thinks out his opinions modestly and carefully is doing his duty as truly as if he helped to save a life." The culture today doesn't reflect this sentiment very well with anyone and everyone spouting off how they feel or what they think about any given situation.


Voting is a right.  But before that comes our duty to work out just opinions. This is where the real work lies.

In her fabulous chapter "Opinions: Justice in Thought", you will find an outline* for forming opinions which I have found helpful to think through when asked my opinion by others or when talking to my children.  It is especially helpful if one of them throws out strong opinions (as teenagers are wont to do) that aren't solidly based.

First of all, you have to have previously thought about the subject and collected some knowledge about it.

Second, it really needs to be our own opinion and not the repeating of a fb meme or some other person's popular article.

Third, we need to at least try hard to look at it objectively. 

Whew.  That sounds like a lot of work and it is. But whether talking politics, personal relationships, or even working through matters of faith, we need to have those well-thought-out opinions.  It's a critical skill WE need, as well as our children.

Warmly,
Nancy

*An Opinion Worth Having

We may gather three rules, then, as to an opinion that is worth the having. We must have thought about the subject and know something about it, as a gardener does about the weather; it must be our own opinion, and not caught up as a parrot catches up its phrases; and lastly, it must be disinterested, that is, it must not be influenced by our inclination.
-From Ourselves, Book II, page 180.



11 comments:

  1. Thank you Nancy. This is very interesting and a good lesson on forming an opinion; important for this time.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Shelley. I agree!

      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  2. What a brilliant and timely post. Thank you, Nancy.

    I must admit that I have only personally been cognizant of forming real opinions about matters - vs adopting those of others around me - since discovering Charlotte Mason's philosophy. It is "For the Children's Sake," as well as for my own. :)

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    1. Dear Dawn,
      Me too, Dawn. I'm so grateful for this journey and way of living.
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  3. Thank you for sharing Nancy! I am eager to go read that chapter. I tend to have the personality type that just wants to have all the expectations laid out for me; tell me what to do and I'll do it. This worked to my advantage in public school. I learned how to do what the teachers wanted and did it. This looks good on the outside, but the drawback is that one doesn't have to really think much with this approach. It's easy to learn the answers for the tests and forget them. If it weren't for the Lord, I probably would be so wishy washy in attempts to please and perform for everyone. This Mason education that I've been gaining for myself along with my children has been such a blessing. I see the Lord helping me make connenctions and think for myself, rather than just fill in the blanks for someone else. What a gift to see my children learning how to think also. I have a feeling that as we approach these teen years, I'm going to need that chapter. ;-) You are so right though, we'll need it more and more for our public lives as well, in the times we are living in. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Heather,
      Well said! This chapter has been so marked up in my book as this certainly is not how I was taught to go about opinions in my life. Of course, Volume 4 was written for students but as with everything else in a Mason education, it applies equally to the parent/teacher. For that I am so thankful!
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  4. This reminds me of Jesus'emphasis on humility and CM's also. It's so easy to get caught up in the wanting to "have a voice" or an "audience" for our opinions. I know I certainly struggle with this at times, because of the way the culture judges success and worth. As mothers and home educators, much of what we do is by faith, the unseen. This outline is so interesting if you tie it with the humility aspect...it makes it so important. Denying ourselves can be denying our "right" to opinions (not all the time, but being very careful and wise about what we share, when, and to whom) and judgments and really be SO careful about the spirit in which we share things. Are we building up each other in the faith? Are we considering all the people and their situations before sharing? This is so good and convicting to me, Nancy. Thanks.

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    1. Exactly, Amy. It is a humble posture and based, I think, on Christ. Thank you for your eloquent thoughts.
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  5. I have never read Mason's Original Series except in bits and pieces, and usually right after reading one of your posts. Thanks for the inspiration, Nancy!

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  7. Excellent post, and I learned much from the comments.

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