I’ve never been one to be shy about expressing my opinion, and sometimes I’m known to do so in pretty strong fashion (yes, DP, wherever you are – I admit it!). But the fact remains, it’s merely my opinion, and I understand that whether I am in the majority or the minority in that regard matters very little, as it will do nothing much to change my day-to-day life.
More often than not, I find that when I express my opinion strongly about something in the face of an opposing view, there is nothing positive that ever comes of it. All I get out of it is a lot of anxiety, and certainly a lot of emotional energy is spent in the process.
Ah, to be right. It’s what we all want, isn’t it? We want to know that the way we see the world is the truth, the undisputed truth, and nothing but the truth. This makes us feel good, and gives us the validating feeling that the way we’re going about life is the best way. Our ego is satisfied.
But the fact of the matter is, when you get right down to it, there is no undisputed or absolute truth. Take any given fact, put it out there into the open world, and I would bet you my last dollar that there is at least a small percentage of the population who disagrees with it. This is the way the world goes around. This is the truth.
And so, what does it all mean? Well, I guess it can mean a lot. Or, nothing at all.
I recently had a public debate/dispute with a ‘Friend’ on Facebook about the self-identification that many Penn State University alum have made with their school, and about how these same people, as a means of distancing themselves from the scandal that took place there, have disassociated from the people who were responsible for covering up Jerry Sandusky’s atrocities. In other words, I was told, “those people, those top officers at Penn State, were/are NOT the university.” In this debate, I had taken the stance that Spanier, Schultz, Curley and Paterno were indeed Penn State University, that they as (the academic equivalent of) corporate officers represent the values and ideals of the “business.” To say that they were not Penn State would be – I argued - like saying Bill Gates and his corporate team are not Microsoft.
The person I was debating with –a PSU graduate – did not take kindly to this opinion. I was vehemently told that I was “drawing incorrect conclusions” from our discussion, and therefore my argument was invalid.
However, happy to continue the discussion, I pressed on with further points and conclusions, only to then be told that I was starting to “piss off” my debate partner. The way I see it, the inherent nature of intellectual discussion carries with it this risk. But….when the name calling begins, it’s probably best to put an end to the conversation, and so that was the way the situation ultimately concluded.
What I realized in all this was that the other person had their way of seeing the facts, and I had mine. And since that wasn’t going to change, I essentially had two options – either to tell them that I agreed with them (even though I didn’t), or to simply end the conversation by saying that we obviously do not (and will not) see eye to eye. I chose the latter.
I then followed up that step with another one – I unfriended the person, for which I was very quickly criticized. Yes, I was characterized as being ‘unclassy’ for running from the debate. There was more to my unfriending this person than just this debate, but it was definitely the clincher.
What is it with people where they have to be right, and if you deny them that opportunity, they get all bent out of shape and start blasting you? I don’t know, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter. The point in all this was that the debate between this person and I was starting to cause me knots in my stomach as it got more intense, and I decided to put a stop to it, for my sake.
He had his truth, and I had mine. And that’s fine. It sure wasn’t worth fighting over.
As I apply this concept to the world around us and see all the differences that we (‘we’ meaning Americans and our culture) have with other countries, cultures and religions, I have to wonder, is any of it really worth fighting over? Do we have to be right, and declare others ‘wrong’ in their view of things? Isn’t it causing us a lot of anxiety, loss of life, and wasting energy that we could otherwise be using for positive purposes?
Others have their truths, and we have ours. To which we are both entitled, and should therefore not kill each other over so as to prove that we are right, or superior.
When will the insanity end?