OpinionThe problem with opinions
The problem with opinions
October 20, 2014
October 20, 2014

Almost two months ago, a chum of mine in marketing was griping to me about the latest commercial developments in campus: a Power Mac center, and a 7-Eleven in the works. “Do we really need a Power Mac and a 7-Eleven? I really can’t believe how commercial La Salle is. What’s your opinion?” he asks, his tone insisting desperately for a critical remark, perhaps a stereotypical leftist-press-lambasting of the blind commercialism this hallowed institution has been so loosely accused of.

To be honest, I could not answer the fellow. Perhaps because he himself worked three internships in large fast-moving consumer goods companies and was indeed an active agent of this “commercialism”, but more because I could not see how soliciting an opinion could reinforce actions taken towards any such correction of the “commercialism” that was taking place in De La Salle. Why would critiquing something you are an active part of bring you any merit? Consistent with Say’s Law, why would you need an opinion for the Power Mac or the 7-Eleven when their supply is something you and the rest of the “consumerist” Lasallian populace actively creates a demand for?

The reality: these consumers tend to clamor, through indirect means such as social media or amongst themselves through whispers, murmurs and crass talk, for more worthy uses of the tuition they pay whenever they hear of a new project, program, construction or development by any authority, be it the administration, their teachers, or even their student leaders; but these same consumers would be hard-pressed to protest at free cuts and easy 4.0s and the mindless purchases from retailers (or they would do it, once more on social media or amongst themselves, but never to the professor’s or administrator’s face).

Granted, critical thinking and never taking things at face value are excellent virtues of the enlightened thinker, but more than just fitting the stereotype of a perpetually unsatisfied millennial, are you actually willing to propose workable alternatives developed for the authorities to look at, or other possible maximizations of tuition? Are we aware of how life is like in the shoes of administration, faculty, or student leaders? Have we considered these prior to the exercise of our so-called critical judgment?

When it comes to talking tuition, one need only look at the greater majority who would prefer to sleep in the University library rather than scouring its vast databases and subscriptions (one of DLSU’s largest investments) or even pouring through the many collections at the Henry Sy, Sr. Hall. But what is the use of awakening this critical mass so consciously asleep, so consciously foregoing these peripheral opportunity costs, when it merely reflects the story of the Lasallian and the truth of his or her post pubsecent disposition.

This disposition conditions Lasallians to remain caught up in personal angsts and personal journeys and personal dispositions and personal repercussions and personal self-discoveries and personal effectiveness and whatever personal-have-you. It is reflective of a bloggish state of mind, which intends only to express and never truly listen, never truly collaborate to develop what we could, but to remain content with a perceived fleeting dissatisfaction.

It is reflective of our nascent lack of satiety, such as when our people clamored for the restoration of democracy almost thirty years ago, and got a workable semblance of it; and yet now a significant portion of the generation is clamoring for the opposite, in the name of “discipline”. We impeached a president because he was corrupt, but we restored him to the mayoralty (with all due respect, Mayor). This is our disposition in the future, when it reaches its height, when we are mature, accountable members of the “real world”: speaking one thing, forgetting, going back to the same mistake because we fail not only to remember but also because we fail to listen. We always go back to shouting opinions and slogans, but never finding the humility to acknowledge the veracity and merit of counter-opinions.

Indeed, the problem with opinions – especially so prevalent in this age of public status posts – is that the moment you open your mouth, our so indomitably built-up pride in ourselves forms a psychic wall against listening to other opinions and considering them in full so as to create a working compromise.

Truly, who has proposed an alternative to the placement of the Power Mac on campus, or to the plans of the 7-Eleven development? When political parties speak out against the misuse of tuition and student funds, who has the evidence, and who among these resplendently private critics has at the very least a partial solution?

Having a critical opinion is not an automatic invitation to call for a new system or to demean the existing one, as it may generally be the case for the bulk of status quos out there. But working within the means, and working hand in hand with the givens, such as administration, faculty, student leaders, more often than not, serves its purpose more concretely and tangibly.

Opinions should count, not as bullets with which to shoot down the ideas of others, but rather to bring these ideas, irrespective of their source, to life, and create working solutions. And so, shall we first listen before we opine, and listen humbly? And when we do opine, to do so with our wits about us, and not give in to our predisposed, high-strung witlessness.


Juan Batalla served as The LaSallian’sEditor in Chief in AY 2013-2014. He is currently in the process of completing his undergraduate degree in Applied Corporate Management.