Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Keeping Opinions To Myself

As I become an adult, I realize that the world isn't as perfect as my child eyes thought it was.

Everyone is taking sides. Conservative or Liberal, Theist or Atheist. We live in a world of diversity, and so even within these four broad categories lies diversity.
Rodney King was once misquoted as saying "can't we all just get along?" (which holds more meaning than his actual phrase "can we all get along?") and the answer is simple: sometimes people don't want to get along, they want their side to be right, because they believe in their side.

There's nothing humanly wrong with this idea, because why would it be your opinion if you didn't believe it? The problem is, of course, that we can't all be right, and a lot of people want to prove each other wrong.

Yes, I'm one of those people. Who isn't?

The difference is knowing when to speak and when to shut your mouth. Over time, through trial and error, I've been learning to tell the difference between these times, for example it is often unwise to comment on a controversial topic on a public forum such as Facebook. I know that now, because I made the mistake of doing it a few times and realizing that controversy creates more controversy. As a result there are people I know who I thought of as my friends who have drawn invisible lines between themselves and I, ultimately severing the innocence of the friendship that was and turning it into a rivalry. I can think of at least three of these, and while I remain "Facebook friends" with them and keep civil, I cannot help but notice that something has changed and ruined our friendship forever.

And over what? A difference of opinion?
Take the following example:
I like blue and you like green. That's good for you, what did you do this weekend? Yes I realize that plants are green. Yes I realize that blue is the color you turn when you die. Fine, don't tell me what you did this weekend, we should argue this instead.

It's ridiculous. I think blue is awesome. I want you to appreciate blue, maybe even like blue as much as I do, but I definitely don't want you to bring up how much I "hate green" (I never said that) months later during a completely unrelated conversation. Besides, I respect that you like green and you have some very valid reasons for liking it (that I just happen to disagree with). If you can't live with that, don't be my friend. I can live with the fact that you like green and I'd like us to get past it so we can make aqua.

Okay, so maybe it's not that easy. After all, I get offended if you express an opinion that's drastically wrong compared to mine, but I promise to have a civil conversation about it if you do. Debate is healthy, after all; how can we make informed choices without being given our options first?

I admit that I'm still learning when to keep my mouth shut. I've heard that I should just keep my opinions to myself, and maybe that's true, but I shouldn't have to feel afraid to express myself, and neither should you. If someone brings up something controversial to you, feel free to bring up your side, but don't turn it into a mud-slinging argument. I've been trying not to, and I usually get mud on my face for it, but every once in a while the other person realizes I'm not trying to insult them and we have a decent conversation about our differing opinions. Those are the best conversations, even if neither of us converts the other.

I'm also a huge fan of putting cheese on everything.

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