Hooray! For once I have a clever link between my title and my post, just like Mindy McGinnis nearly always does. One of my greatest friends is both a science teacher and an artist, and she once noted something I found very interesting. Consider the following:
To a physicist, 'white' is the presence of all colors, such as white light broken into a rainbow by a prism.
To an artist, 'white' is the absence of color, a complete lack of pigment.
Their views are about as diametrically opposed as you can get. Who's right, and who's wrong?
That's the wrong question.
Try this one on for size:
Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? From a scientific standpoint, it's definitely a fruit. From a culinary perspective, I'd call it a vegetable, because that's how it's used.
There are some things in life that can be worked out to 'right' and 'wrong,' but plenty of others that depend on your perspective and the circumstances. I'm all for being opinionated (and I am ... oh, I definitely am), but if you're so entrenched in your opinion that you can't even entertain a differing view, you're going to miss out on a lot. If nothing else, it can be a fun mental exercise to try to understand why the other person has the opinion they do. I may still disagree, but that's not the point.
Then there's writing—I wonder if it's possible to be a truly great writer without that ability. How can characters come alive and feel authentic if the author can't shift their perspective? (This presumes all the characters aren't thinly veiled carbon copies of the author ... because how boring would that be?)
And yet I've seen many a mud-slinging fight among writers that came down to one or both sides being unable to acknowledge that a certain topic may not have a right or wrong—just different angles.
If I ever fall into that trap, someone do me a favor and give me a nice Gibbs-style head-slap, okay?