Which is it?

As I sit writing my fifty-second article for 2011, I made an interesting observation the other day. I needed to look at something on the Village News website. While there, I looked for the section on columnists, and found it under the heading “Opinion.” This observation got me thinking, so I looked up the word opinion in the dictionary. Webster’s defines opinion as a “judgment or belief; an estimation; a formal statement by an expert.” I know that the staff for the Village News sees the latter statement in the definition as the type of opinion that is offered by the columnists, but I wonder if the readers see it that way? Is it possible that some readers see columns such as this one as an estimation or belief of the writer, and therefore a message that does not need to be heeded?

Let’s do an experiment. How important do you believe smoke alarms are to your family’s safety? Smoke alarms are the best means of early warning in the event of a fire. If you take this statement as my estimation or belief, and choose not to believe it, or deny that a fire will ever occur in your home, there will probably be no working smoke alarms in your home when a fire occurs. Let’s look at seat belts. Do you wear one? If not, why? If so, do you wear it because it will save your life in the event of a vehicle accident, or do you wear it because the law says you must? Why you do what you do says a great deal about what you believe to be the truth. So let’s state some facts: 3.5-4.0 out of every 10 residential fires will start in the kitchen; most fire fatalities occur at night while people are sleeping; the leading cause of death in the 25-44 year old range are motor vehicle accidents; and the greatest chance of surviving a residential fire occurs when the home is protected by the proper number of operating smoke alarms and a residential sprinkler system.

Now, let me offer an opinion and see what you think. I travel I-295 from Route 10 to Route 5 pretty regularly. Construction on the new exit has just been completed, but there is still construction on the Enon-Varina Bridge, so the speed limit through the work zone is 55 MPH. There is also a sign that says stay in lane. My experience is that traffic blows by me like I am sitting still (while actually going 55), and lane changing occurs up and down the entire bridge. It is my understanding that work zone fines are much higher, and for the safety of the workers, it must be enforced! For those that completely disregard the work zone, I am quite certain that they do not agree with my “opinion.”

You may have figured out by now that I do not always write with the intent of leaving you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. I try to tell you the truth on every subject that I write about. If I water down the message, then the truth of the matter may be missed. I pray that you have had a good 2011, but my hope and prayer is that you will have a better 2012. Sometimes my messages have to be stern, and seemingly uncaring, but some only listen to the “tough love” messages. I have told you before, I do not mind you being mad at me for what I write if you survive an event because of something that I may have written in a past article. Happy New Year and may God prosper and keep you!  

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