Dissent in Service of the Common Good!

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

It is not arguable that we are different. Our ideas and worldviews are also different. In fact, our opinions and views on issues are most likely to be different. No two individual persons are exactly the same in their persons and in their views about things. Individual differences and circumstances must play some roles.

Different individual tastes, attitudes, aptitudes, and the like are index of differences. There is no doubt also that there are agreements among people. People can decide to agree on certain issues and terms. This is always within the confines of their individual freedoms. No one can prevent this. Neither is it desirable to argue to the contrary.

Infact, people of like minds are most likely to agree. Agreement is not by force. It is by the force of convictions. People are free to agree or disagree to something or to an opinion. It is wonderful when people agree to live and work together in peace as a response from their inner convictions about our interconnectedness as human persons.

The society can be made to progress more when its individual members' rights to air or support or even disagree to an opinion are respected. This is the hallmark of true civilization. Of course, true civility must ensure that people are allowed the freedom of their opinions and decisions, even when they are against our own.

But our case is different. People are denied the rights of holding contrary opinions. Thus one is forced to say Yes when one means to say No, or belong to A when one wishes to belong to B or even to remain neutral; the freedom of the individuals to do this should be guaranteed. Otherwise we become handicapped in chains. And this is the truth of our situation in Nigeria.

Dissent in this context therefore is the legitimate right of the individual person to disagree to an opinion or an idea, without being molested or made to pay the price. It is the decision of an individual person within the limits of one's own contexts, knowledge and resources to adopt a certain position without any harm to the opinions and decisions of others.

It is a type of live and let live. One should be free to dissent from some opinions and ideas. It is not even absolutely necessary always that one justifies ones decisions in so far as these do to constrain others or short chain- the rights of others.

And so the existence of opposition parties in a multi-party system within the confines of the practice of democracy is legitimate. We must continue to defend the rights of the common man to hold a different opinion. It establishes the freedom of individual persons to seek and strive after the truth.

And when people are aware that the several opinions are in search of the truth and no one single opinion has got it absolutely, then the society will thrive in peace.

No one single person has a monopoly of the truth. Our various opinions could be aspects of the truth and when we are able to recognize this, we able to recognize the need-for the other.

Finally Dissent is not for its own sake. It is to facilitate the Common Good of all in a society since no one single opinion or idea is enough for the society.

We need the different opinions and ideas of others for our collective growth and development.



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