By Greg Jackson
Week after week, just before I put pen to paper — or more aptly stated, just before I place my fingers on a keyboard — I clear my brain for a few seconds and think about what has caught my attention over the past 24 to 168 hours. Quite frankly, those few seconds are not spent researching topics, calling people for more detailed information or interviewing sources; I just let my mind go to a certain subject, place my fingers on the keyboard and let my fingers do the walking. So whether it is the upcoming elections in Orange County, the poor spending decisions of Apopka’s CRA, questionable actions of people within the community, gun ownership, protests by pampered professional athletes, holiday plans, you name it, I allow myself to just write what I feel. In other words, I share with folks who read this opinion column, my opinions — nothing more, nothing less.
So, imagine my surprise when I learned that someone who read my “opinion” in the opinion column last week admonishing the City of Apopka for its poor decisions in not supporting the Spirit of Florida Gospel Festival and for also leaving the Amphitheater in a deplorable state for the Festival, wanted me to retract my opinion. I admit I was a bit confused because I was not quite sure how I could take back how I feel about something. But, for some reason someone wanted to silence my voice because they either a) did not like what I was writing, b) did not believe what I was writing or c) believed that my words were powerful enough to sway others’ opinions. Let’s operate off of the assumption for a moment that “c” is true; under any circumstance, it does not change the fact that I, like every one of you, am entitled to and have my own opinion. It just so happens that thousands of people either read my opinions each week in The Apopka Voice or on my various social media platforms, or they hear my opinions ever Monday from 7:00pm to 8:00pm on one of Central Florida’s most listened to and talked about evening radio talk shows (in my opinion), LET’S TALK ABOUT IT with Rod Love and yours-truly.
But here’s the rub, having an opinion means that I can be passionate, I can be brash, I can be entertaining, and I can be thought-provoking. Having an opinion allows me to challenge authority, tempt fate, facilitate the birth of new ideas by others and in some instances influence folks to agree with my way of thinking.
With an opinion, I just need a few moments with my thoughts, a pen and a piece of paper.
This past week I also learned that opinions matter. Opinions are powerful. Opinions are divisive. But, most importantly every one of us has opinions that we can express to help bring attention to issues that are of importance. With my opinions, not only do I speak what is on my mind, I also point out things that thousands of other people are thinking, but they either lack the courage, ability or platform to express their opinions. But in no event do they lack the right to express their opinions.
In a nutshell, here is my point: where deemed necessary I will express my opinion openly, unapologetically and boldly. I will do so not to upset folks, lose friends or create new enemies, but to exercise my right because as I learned this past week, my opinion is indeed powerful. It empowers others and it helps to shed light on issues that would otherwise be forgotten. But the beautiful thing is that like me, your words are equally powerful and equally impactful. Your words too can bring about much-needed change in places far and wide. So, if I were a person who did not like my opinion of me, I would do all I could to convince me to have a different opinion of myself, so that I could convince others to develop a positive opinion of me – in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, a military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.