Decades ago when I was a young professor, a friend told me that her fifth-grade granddaughter needed an unofficial mentor. My friend asked me to serve her granddaughter in that capacity, and I agreed. The girl was soon spending time with me every afternoon.
Youngsters like spending time with me because when I talk to them on an informal basis, I treat them like adults. I share my views on current events, politics, and ethics, and I ask them their ideas on those topics. Then I listen thoughtfully, asking them to clarify, elaborate, and defend their views.
My young protégé listened intently to my opinions about the news of the day and responded eagerly with her own. I taught her to ask important questions to herself and other people. I taught her to base her opinions on evidence and to hold herself and other people to high intellectual standards. And I taught her that adults are not always right, explaining that as I examine issues more deeply, I often reverse my original opinions. I patted myself on the back as I watched my young friend learn to challenge her own assumptions and those of other people.
Then one day she walked into my office, put her hands on her hips, and announced, "My mother says that you are a woman of considerable opinions."
"Why, thank you!" I said. I beamed.
Then she added, "My mother doesn't like them."
So out of the mouth of that babe came the name of this blog: Considerable Opinions.
Read my considerable opinions or don't. Respond to them or don't. Tell other people about them or don't. But for Pete's sake, whether you are a youngster or an old moss-back like me, put your mind to work thinking about important ideas. Hold yourself to high intellectual standards. Question everything, starting with your own assumptions. Then share your own considerable opinions with anyone who will dialogue with you.
Because talking to and listening to each other is the only way we're going to solve important problems, our own or the world's.
And in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "And that's all I got to say about that."