Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Opinion on Not Having An Opinion

When I was growing up, I was part of a very liberal family living in a very conservative town. The conservative contigent was already well established and deeply entrenched by the time we got there. My family managed to find like-minded people and discovered a liberal culture that was growing.  Everyone had an opinion about something. Often loudly.
Then I moved to Boston for college. By the time I graduated, my mother was convinced conservative aliens had sucked my brains while I was in the northeast. Yep, for years and years, I was the conservative one in my family, which should tell you how liberal a bunch we were. Not surprisingly, however, conservative aliens did not suck my brains. Something did happen though. I went somewhere where it was okay to say "I don't know." In fact, it was encouraged. Now, while many might think this was because I went to college at all, I transferred to my school in Boston. I'd already done two and a half years in college. I wasn't some innocent, bright-eyed eighteen year old who'd never seen the world.

But in Boston, we were taught that if you only knew one side of an argument, you did not, in spite of what your gut or your emotions wanted to say, have enough information to form an opinion. It was novel. Mind you, I'd heard both sides debate issues before. You couldn't miss it growing up the way I did, remember? But I'd heard very little objective fact about the other side's side.

People were so busy yelling at each other; pulling out the weakest, most ludicrous sound bites of the other's stance in order to eviscerate it; standing by their own propaganda for the sake of standing by it...there wasn't a lot of room for listening. There were a few people ~ my dad, a couple professors at that first school, a friend's father, another friend's mother, AppsRUs ~ who listened and encouraged actual knowledge prior to making a decison but that's not the culture of my youth.

It's not the culture of my adulthood, either, it seems. People are going a little crazy with the propaganda these days...again...still...something. We hear it on msnbc or fox news, depending to which side of the aisle we lean and we believe it. We don't need to listen to the facts of the other side; we don't have to research what it actually means. We've heard our side's counter argument and that's enough.

Only, it's not. It's not enough to knee jerk against Planned Parenthood or Medicare cuts. Land minds and school lunches are both nuanced subjects, in spite of what is easy to believe. And we may come to the exact same opinion when it's all over. That is okay. At least we got there legitimately, not just because one side or the other was louder.

Until we get there, though, I really wish we could step back and acknowledge when we just don't know.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.


Buck Obamba said...

You must be a fucking Jew. Jews are the most Godless evil bastards in the history of the world.