The Right To An Opinion – Project O

Everyone has something to say. Everyone has an opinion. And we should respect all opinions and express all opinions respectfully because we’re all people.

Respecting the right to an opinion is the message Opinionated Man is trying to get out there through Project O, a blogging project collating responses to a series of questions on this topic throughout this month. It is a global project dedicated to exploring how various factors such as location, nationality, sex, age and cultural background have the potential to affect the formation of opinions.

Protestors sitting on the road and voicing their opinions at Swanston St/Bourke St. Photo: Mabel Kwong

Protestors sitting on the road and voicing their opinions at Swanston St/Bourke St. Photo: Mabel Kwong

Below is my submission (questions edited for brevity reasons) for Project O. It was first posted here. Check out the other submissions here – all very different from mine but well worth the read.

Question 1: Please provide a window into who you are, some background information in a not too overwhelming profile here.

I’m a writer from Melbourne, Australia. I’m what many call a tiny short girl who looks too young to go out alone at night. It’s funny because I’m in my early twenties –still a young person. Aside from working a couple of office jobs to feed myself, I maintain a blog where I post my thoughts about multiculturalism and what it means to be different personality-wise in a culturally diverse world. I write because I want to share these ideas around and connect people from all over world. I’m an Asian Australian of Chinese-Malaysian descent. In my spare time, I play video games.

Question 2: 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. I believe our surroundings and where we come from have a strong impact on our development of opinions. It would also be highly likely that the safety of the country might also determine how willing one is to express their opinions aloud.

I was born in Melbourne and today I live on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD. Almost everyday I stroll down the city streets, meandering between close-knit concrete skyscrapers and shadowed laneways. Every where I turn, I see people from all walks of life – old, young, Caucasian, Asian, Middle Eastern etc.. Pity they always seem to be in a great rush. Late at night when you’re tucked up in bed, it’s not uncommon to hear the “ding” of the trams running outside, a subtly signal reminding me there’s always life out there.

Question 3: Recount the first time you remember having a differing opinion from someone significantly older than you.

As a kid, I always disagreed with mum over what I could and could not eat. I envied my friends at school who ate Shapes, Australian barbecued flavoured biscuits. I begged mum to buy me Shapes but she refused and said they were unhealthy. I said these biscuits can’t be all that bad as everyone I knew ate them. Mum finally relented and bought a box. I gobbled up about ten pieces of Shapes biscuits at one go and the next day I woke up with a sore throat. Mum was right.

Question 4: What levels of respect were practiced around you when you were a child? Was there bowing involved, handshakes, “yes Sirs and yes Ma’ams,” or some other equivalent respectfulness in your culture’s tongue?

My parents are Chinese-Malaysian. Whenever we went out to have dinners with our relatives in Malaysia, my parents always told me to “greet your Uncle and Auntie when you see them” and “don’t make noise in the restaurant”. I duly did what they said. In Asian cultures, “shutting up and listen” and letting elders/others speak first is a virtue. Maybe this is why I find it so hard to strike up a conversation with most people. Maybe this is why many people of Asian heritage tend to be quiet and are reluctant to speak up in various situations.

Question 5: How traveled are you and to what degree do you keep up with international news? How available is the news and what goes on in the outside world to you in your country?

I visit news websites and blogs to keep up to date with Australian and international current affairs. I like to keep informed of what’s going on in Singapore and Malaysia, two counties where I’ve lived for a number of years and feel some sort of attachment to.

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?

I want the world to acknowledge and pay more attention to the topic of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is more than just about ethnic food and festivals – it’s also about getting along with people of varying races and respecting cultural differences. We’re all different in terms of physical appearances and personalities, but we’re also very much the same in that we all have problems and dreams.

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?

I believe there is no right or wrong answer (even scientific facts can be challenged). Every thing said about a particular topic is a valid argument or comment even if it sounds ridiculous. Every one of us regardless of age, race, heritage and background deserves to say what we think and believe. The more opinions we throw up in the air, the more rich discussions can be. The more opinions we throw up in the air, the more chatter there will be and the more likely we will learn to get along with one another and let one another speak their minds.

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’ll feel bad saying my opinion out in the open when I know someone beside me can’t. Speaking on behalf of someone who can’t speak for themselves should be encouraged.

Question 9: 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?

On a personal level, Project O has reminded me to respect everyone’s opinions whether I agree with them or not. I reckon this project has the potential to raise attention to how we shouldn’t overly negatively criticise others up until we hurt their feelings. I do think it’s okay for us to doubt others’ opinions and say that we disagree; it only adds deeper insight to conversations and discussions. At the end of the day, we should all agree to disagree in order for all opinions to be heard and respected.

Do you speak your mind in every situation, or do you keep to yourself even if you have a different idea from the person next to you?

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