The Power of Public Opinion Essay Outlines:
1. Opinion governs people. It controls our religious beliefs, social habits, moral and ethical outlook. The government, whether constitutional or despotic, swears by the name of the people to justify their actions.
2. What is public opinion? It is the opinion held in general by the people on important issues in spite of differences of disposition, circumstances, interest, attachments, and habits. Mutual forbearance and tolerance are necessary.
3. Agreement on essential points. Since the good of the community, in general, is the aim, there is agreement on essential points.
4. Kinds of public opinion. (a) Passive and false, (b) active and real. Idle, uneducated, disunited or timid people express false opinion whereas vigilant and alert people who actively exercise their voice in the management of the country offers an instance of true or active public opinion.
5. Agencies through which public opinion is expressed. (a) Press, (b) platform, (c) political parties, and (d) educational institutions.
6. Fields for the exercise of public opinion. Its power is most felt in social and political spheres. It serves as a check on the government’s high-handedness-appoints or dismisses it.
7. The voice of the people – the voice of God. Though not yet fully developed, it is assuming unthinkable
proportions and potency.
The Power of Public Opinion Essay With Outlines
Today people are governed by opinions. The power of opinion manifests itself not only in politics but in almost all the spheres of human activities and thoughts. It controls our religious beliefs, our social habits as well as our moral and ethical outlook. People want to make their voice heard and to manage their own affairs. So loud and persistent is the demand of people that rightly or wrongly all states now claim to be based on the opinion of the governed.
Whatever they do, they do in the name of the people. The most constitutional governments and despotic rulers swear alike by the name of the people to justify their actions. What then is public opinion? Public opinion is the opinion held by the people in general on any important issue. People are not made in the same mold, like a lot of bricks. It would have been unfortunate if it had been so.
Consequently, even in the same country, men differ in disposition and manners, and opinions. Their sentiments, aims and objectives, thinking, all differ. It is necessary for us, therefore, to cultivate a generous spirit of forbearance and tolerance towards those who may think and act differently from ourselves.
Public opinion must be based on reason and must aim at the good of the community on the whole. It cannot be called public opinion unless it is substantially shared by the dominant portion of the community. This does not mean that all people must think alike and in the same way. All that is signified is that on essential points they must be in agreement, though on non-essential matters they may differ.
Public opinion may be passive and false, or active and real. It is claimed in theory that all governments are ultimately based on the opinion or sanction of the governed. But we find that, in practice, the people’s rights are often trodden down and tyranny and oppression are allowed to continue. The government succeeds in being tyrannical, not because the people want it to be so but because they are too idle, too uneducated, and too disunited or timid to oppose the government. Such public opinion is passive and false, and not an active verdict. But when we find people alert, intelligent and determined to let the government know their will, when they want to actively exercise their voice in the management of their country, we have an instance of true or active public opinion.
True public opinion is formed by and expressed through the press, the platform of political parties and educational institutions. These institutions have sacred duties to perform, duties on which depend the ultimate good of the entire community. Hence, they should thoroughly realize their responsibilities. The press today wields a tremendous influence. So it should support the right cause and movements and condemn the wrong ones and thus teach people to form correct opinions. The people should have access to accurate and unbiased information. The masses get disillusioned and feel frustrated when the government adopts important policies without bringing them to the gaze of the public. A free and fair press ventilates the grievances of the public. Thus, a healthy relationship develops between the people and the government through an unbiased press. The service which is done on a large scale by the press is also done in a limited way by speeches from the platform. Political parties also help to create and regulate opinions. An equally important part is played by the educational institutions which train the minds of the young people who will be the citizens of tomorrow. It has been said that modern Germany and China have been made by their universities.
The field for the exercise of public opinion is very wide. However, its power is most felt in social and political spheres. It has assumed great strength. The voice of the people is the voice of God. It is the inexorable voice of destiny that has now made itself felt everywhere. It is people’s will as expressed through the elections that appoint the government and can dismiss the government at the polls. It now serves as a check on the high-handedness of the government. With the gradual awakening of the masses, it is assuming an unthinkable proportion and potency.
However, the force of public opinion has not yet been fully formed in our country, far from being an ideal democratic government in which all men enjoy equal rights and privileges, but instead, the state that exists for all is yet to be fully realized here. It is necessary that the young and the growing minds should imbibe the spirit of fellow-feeling, the spirit of tolerance, the habit of compromise, and show due regard for the feelings and opinions of others, without which a democratic society cannot function, let alone succeed. When there is the true awakening of the people, we shall have the real and conscious public opinion. And justice will reign on earth and truly will the voice of the people be the voice of God
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