Opinions are interesting, aren’t they?
We are all entitled to them, we all have them, and most of us feel the need to spout them from time to time. With this blog, it’s opinions all the time. The thing with something like a blog though is it’s something you have to participate in, in that you come here and read it.
It’s not foisted on you unawares.
I am not running up to you in the street to get in your face and tell you my opinions.
I am not making you read them.
For some reason, Americans have fallen into a really awkward and unfortunate habit of declaring their opinions any time they feel the itch to do it. It has certainly only gotten worse during the election cycle and due to Covid.
Sure, there were always folks, mainly older White folks, that would just declare – I don’t like their hair, their mustache, their clothes, their tattoos, their this or their that.
We always had that.
I am sure all of us have or had parents or loved ones who did that.
I don’t like that man’s suit!
As they discussed the weatherman.
Or, if you were lucky –
Why are there so many Black basketball players? Where are the White players?
That’s a really fun one to hear.
Or, oooh, there’s –
When someone is referring to a female governor.
Yeah, it’s great.
Because what do you say to that?
Oh, we can pretend we’re going to correct people but the fact is, I don’t.
I wasn’t going to correct an elder family member.
For what gain?
To create a rift?
To start an argument?
My correcting them isn’t going to change their opinion or heart.
So why damage the relationship?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
If we don’t try to correct people then things never get better.
I sorta call BS on that though because you don’t change people’s hearts by shaming them.
You change them by showing them another way.
By reminding them of the humanity in someone.
Those aren’t JUST basketball players, they are athletes that worked and trained and sacrificed to develop the skills they have. There’s no secret committee that’s ignoring talented White athletes in lieu of focusing on Black ones or ones of color in general.
If someone believes that they are stupid and ignorant.
But you can’t just tell people that, can you?
You can’t really lay out that, well, there’s a degree of socio-economic trajectory that helps decide some of this and some students of color that don’t see other opportunities may focus more on sports than say, someone else that may have more opportunities elsewhere.
Those are DEEP weeds to get into and someone shouting a racist rant isn’t looking to hear reasons.
They want acknowledgement or agreement.
And just because they say awful things and we have to hear them doesn’t mean we have to agree, for the love of Pete.
It’s strange though how casual we have become with the awful things we want to tell the world.
Maybe it’s because so many of us feel unheard and unseen.
We are shouting into the darkness of the internet and social media, hoping someone acknowledges us and when people don’t we turn to the person beside us.
We wanna be seen.
We wanna be heard.
We are even seeing the news networks turn to opinion over fact.
There is a place for both, as long as the delineation is clear.
As long as that line is visible.
As long as the talking heads are clear that they are no longer telling you the facts of news but are telling you the perceptions of that news.
There’s a difference, and it’s stark.
I was getting an oil change last week and reading the last of the Hellboy/BPRD graphics on my tablet when a woman entered the waiting room. She had a long chat with the awkward kid beside her, a kid of color who shocked her a little when, as they talked about a current event story unfolding on the television, he declared it didn’t matter because it was all gonna end in World War 3 and he’d never fight for our country.
She was a little aback by that.
They talked a little longer and he left.
She got on her phone and had a conversation with someone about the holidays, and about presents, and plans and the banal stuff we talk about during the day. Then she asked if the person had been following the news of the day and then described it, and made sure to state – well, it’s ‘cause she’s Black.
She was desperate to voice her outrage about this, about a perceived injustice which was based solely on someone who wasn’t White.
It was weird and it was gross and while it wasn’t directed at me, the fact that she was comfortable saying it in public is a problem.
We are too comfortable espousing our opinions.
Not banal ones like – I LOVE this movie, OR I LOVE cheeseburgers.
No, we feel the need of late to declare our hate for people and beliefs.
Our disdain for the differences people have from us.
Our distrust of anyone not like us.
Our disgust at lifestyles that don’t fall into our narrow world view.
Feel what you feel.
You do you, as they say.
I don’t care.
The problem though is mine when you decide to vomit your hatred and pettiness on my shoes and expect me to either back you up, argue with you, or just clean the mess up and go on with my life.
I shouldn’t have to deal with your vitriol because you’re an American and you have rights.
I don’t care.
Go get a bumper sticker.
Post it on your socials for your pals to parrot.
Leave me out of it.
And there is a bit of challenge to some of this.
The declarations to strangers, as if they want an argument.
They want the holy war of words, they want to feel vindicated in their rage or anger.
They want to be seen and heard.
I wonder though if we appreciate the weight of our rage.
That these little brushfires can rage into infernos if loosed on the wrong people at the wrong time.
Or shared with the right people at the wrong time.
We have become a society of powderkegs and so many of us are desperate for release, for explosion, without understanding that you don’t survive it.
Little ever does.
But by god we have a right, a RIGHT to our opinions and we’ll sure as heck tell everyone within shouting distance of them.
Sure, we all have opinions but sometimes the biggest ones are best kept to ourselves or to our close circle.
Not everything is better out, than in.
But hey, that’s just MY opinion.
I write! BOOKS! Go to my bookstore and check them out.