I had an interesting conversation the other day, for a couple of reasons. One is that it encompassed subjects that today we are uncomfortable addressing. The other was because it was with myself.
I had just experienced another day of media, left and right, and was again upset with the state of our country. I thought of the days, just a few years ago when I was concerned by the lack of compromise exercised by, well, most everyone. That stagnancy of thought that would allow a nation to hold it’s collective breath while opinions became fact and fact became the armor behind which each side hid.
So, I asked myself two questions. The first was “do I think I am biased”. The obvious answer was no. I just think I’m right. Dahhh. Everyone thinks they are right, so, that being the case, bias must only exist within those that are wrong, and that would have to be those who do not agree with me. That’s when I started to examine ‘me’ and what I think. My mind and my opinions are a blend of history, experience, education, and age. And that is where the bubble, bubble, toil and trouble scenario evolves. You see, everyone has their own caldron. And to it, they add their own ingredients. And I am no different then anyone else. So therefore, my opinions and paradigms are derived the same way as the guy standing next to me. What has changed, however, is that we (I) are unwilling to sip from the other guys cauldron. This isn’t about wine, it is about life, although I will inject that wine, not unlike opinion, is best when shared. I have, however, never ordered up someone else’s opinion, and perhaps, that is part of the problem. I have always been comfortable with mine.
The second question to myself was “are you comfortable with your environment”. Wow, that’s a big question unless you qualify ‘environment’. If we are talking warming, the answer is “I think so”. If you are talking the state of a nation or the world, I would have to give a resounding “no”. My opinions may be way off base. History may point at me and say ‘boy, did you get that wrong’. However, my opinions may have value, and yield results, if ever tested. But, given our current mindset, we may never know.
I believe it was Ralph Waldo Emerson that said “The only sin that we never forgive in each other is a difference of opinion”. I think he was right. I concluded my solitary conversation thinking how often I do not recognize the opinion of another simply because it is opposed to mine. How frequently I am prone to advancing an argument instead of a reason. How quickly I am ready to defend that which I believe without benefit of argument.
But here’s the thing. Most recently, without any degree of specificity, I have been labeled racist because of my opinion, without discussion. I have been labeled supremacist because I am white. I have become the problem because I worked and became somewhat successful. Being an old white male today doesn’t bring the respect, or any for that matter, that it did to my father, for no other reason then I am white, and/or old, two things over which I have no control. But, unfortunately, none of this does anything to advance our individual or collective agenda. Further, it does nothing to solve our international, national, or local problems. We are burning at our core. I hope I live long enough to see the Phoenix rise.