In an era of social media and in the midst of another election year, people have never been so free to speak their minds, nor have felt so obligated to do so. In this war of words and tumult of opinions, perhaps we seek to strike a curiosity in others, but among those who are loudest and most presumptuous, opinion bears the fruits of discomfort and bitterness.
Those who are young are taught the difference between fact and opinion, yet those who have grown too often blur these lines. Opinion may be based on fact, but in contrast to fact, opinion cannot be proven true nor false. Thus how can argument be intensified to achieve greater effectiveness? Through appeals to emotion and twists of logic? Through vicious attacks and spitefulness? In the tumult of opinions, the deeper meaning behind the issue is lost, and while the argument is to settle who is right and wrong, there are enough voices to bring each other down, and the opportunity obtain wisdom and learning is circumvented.
Seeing other voice their opinions is admirable. It makes us want to raise our voices and cry our beliefs to the world. But have these beliefs been nourished through honest and sincere study? How would it be that the same generation who felt the need to be heard online had been fed those opinions by a quick Google search or video bite? It is said by some that those who do not hold to their own opinions are controlled by their peers to conform to society. All the same, those who feel such may form opinions solely for the purposes of forming them, and the ground on which they stand cannot truly be firm (not without the voice of Susan Bennett).
While observing the fighting that appears fruitless, we may point our motive to the words of James Madison, who highlighted the importance of the fight. However I believe that those who take this as rationalization to fight simply for the sake of argument have failed to understand that, while men are not angels, how much better a world could be for one to at least make an effort act like one.
Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? … A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
Experience has taught mankind a similar lesson outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants:
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
What greater aspiration does the natural man have than to hold dominion over another person? Would that not be the effective way to bring about change, to take away another’s agency and fully exercise one’s own? We all see things so differently, why is anything worth saying at all if it is not without guile? Pure knowledge and love unfeigned as a primary motive for our uttered remarks would be so ideal if put into practice.
I do not see a better way to bring about real change in the hearts of the people, including ourselves, than this simple inspired instruction. No, men are not angels. We need each other. Ambition must be counteracted, but let not your own ambition be empty and cold. No, not all men are angels, but I would expect that at least one life be made better were we to move toward a society where angels among men were not disappearing, but rather the converse. One life, if we tried for one day to be better.