This blog is for my wise, wise son. He's currently very excited that his newborn son is very advanced for his age. Well boy, imagine how proud I am that you are so old for your years.
You've heard me tell you about James as a child. He was demon spawn. He was such hard work that if he'd been my first child, he'd have been my last. But luckily I had experience and support and somehow we managed to raise him into a human being. Along the way something even more magical than that happened.
He is now coming out with concepts that I didn't discover until I was in my forties. All my kids thrill me like this, but because it's James doing it, i.e. the "difficult" one, it is just that bit more special. It means his executive skills have matured.
So, this blog is inspired by him and dedicated to him.
You hear me talk about balance a lot on these pages, in many and various ways. Some of you agree with me, some don't understand, and some think it's a nice idea but impossible. For me it is everything. It is the concept that runs my life. Therefore it is awfully hard for me to understand why it's not important to others - and frequently it isn't.
A lot of people I meet, including plenty of intelligent people I admire and respect, are not big on balance. Not in any obvious way, anyway, and certainly not in a way that they talk about it. Perhaps they find it in their own way, maybe only subconsciously, but they appear to be more of the "all or nothing" persuasion.
By this I mean, people whose opinions are heavily affected by the concepts of "always" and "never". These are concepts I tend to avoid, because I don't think they work.
I'm not talking about scientific data here. If you mix red with blue you will always get purple. Not that sort of thing.
The sort of thing I have in mind are pronouncements. "I would never do that." "That is always the best way."
I much prefer usually, sometimes, and seldom, because they are more realistic.
I've also been told that I'm a moral relativist and that this puts me in league with the scum of the Earth.
Well, so be it.
Now, we could do the religious aspect thing here, as we often do, where I reject the teachings of the Bible unless I like them, and I get two sets of reactions, those who share that rejection, and nod vigorously, and those who gasp in horror at the very idea, and we could use this as an example of just how good or bad absolutism is based on that.
But I think that's a cop-out. That's ethics by proxy. If you base what's right and wrong on very old books then you end up with Shariah, and......no.
The world changes, and so do we, and right and wrong are moving targets.
Oh sure, there are taboos. There are things that are fairly steady in the right and wrong area, no question, but there aren't many.
I know individuals and societies have others, but these are the only taboos deserving of being taboo, in my humble opinion. That's all it is too. My opinion. It's not worth much.
Now, there are other things that are wrong, but not always. There are grey areas. For a taboo to be worth its salt, it has to be always wrong. And always is a very difficult word.
Obviously opinions vary and there are a long list of activities considered taboo in some places and not others.
When we get silly taboos what do we do?
Read this. You don't have to approve, just take in the information:
Surprised at all?
Your opinion is not what matters, what matters is WHY you hold that opinion.
And, exactly the same applies with every single taboo, be it religious, sexual, food, or otherwise. There are things you shudder at, because you always have.
It's not wrong to shudder, but it's wrong to never ask yourself why you shudder, you see? Question everything. It was a lot of questioning that pared that list down to 4 for me, and if I was dying of starvation after a small plane crash in the mountains, and the pilot was already unconscious from loss of blood, I could probably reduce it 3. Don't say you wouldn't, because you don't know.
The other 3 are not necessary for survival, so there's no excuse.
Now the thing is, beyond the taboos there are many things considered good and bad. Depending on where you live these value judgements will vary dramatically in importance and therefore they all end up being opinions.
What is an opinion worth? That depends entirely on what you base it on. On the face of it, no opinion ranks higher than another one. There are times when a minority opinion turns out to be the wiser one, but at the time, that isn't always easy to judge.
You can't have missed the flap caused in the media by the removal of a popular TV personality due to his homophobic (we'll come back to that) statements.
I don't even watch TV and I've heard of this show - "Duck Dynasty." I don't know much about it and will refrain from an opinion because it would be rather unfair to base an opinion on ignorance (note that remark.) Do I HAVE an opinion, despite never having watched it? You bet I have. It's worth nothing.
Now, apparently one of the gentlemen on this show chose to share HIS opinion, and the world heard it. As a result the company who own the show have "let him go." I don't know if this is permanent or not, as there's a clamour by fans to get him back, but the damage is done. The argument has started.
A friend of mine posted the following yesterday, and it's very pertinent.
I’m going against my own better judgement by even MENTIONING the following, but I’m less intrigued by WHAT is said than the utter stupidity BEHIND the remarks.
Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, defending Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, who was suspended for anti-gay remarks:
“I grant you, he did not say this in the kindest way – but why can’t there be a debate about it? Why can’t there be a back-and-forth, a discussion — you know, that’s how he feels, and you say how you feel...”
Here’s the thing Megyn, we’ve had that conversation. We’ve had that debate for decades. What more do you think we need to say here? And what new info did this clown supposedly bring to the table here? He’s not the first guy who’s ever said, “Them homersexuals is bein’ immoral ‘cause th’ Bible.” He’s not exactly breaking new ground here. How long are we supposed to sit back and listen to the same tired, unconvincing, insulting arguments and over and over?
Kelly isn’t calling for a debate — and neither are the rest of Roberston’s defenders. She’s asking for the right to hurl insults at people in the LGBT community, while members of that community shut up and take it. Sorry folks, that part of the “debate” is over.
Dumb ass bitch. Yeah, I said,”bitch.”
Her, and Palin, and Coulter.
The last thing I need to hear is a lecture on the First Amendment by people like her.
In my world, the argument started before this. It's been going on ever since I first came on to the internet in 1997. No doubt it will go on forever. And it crops up in relation to similar pronouncements by people in the public eye, as well as by ordinary mortals expressing an opinion. One they would do better keeping to themselves.
There are many opinions like that. Right or wrong are not set in stone (see above), and therefore while your opinion could be either, it's often a good idea to
SHUT THE FUCK UP
Somewhere in our liberated relativist society a lot of people have got the idea that being entitled to their opinion also means they have the right to share it.
There are lots of people who don't seem to have a filter between their opinions and their mouth. These are not stupid people. It's tempting to see them that way, but on many other occasions they display great wisdom, and indeed, excellent values. They may in other ways be kind, useful, and entertaining too. In fact they may be 99% wise.
We could therefore say they have a slip of wisdom, rather than a slip of the tongue, because for it to be said, it has to be in there. Better that it stays in there.
What possesses them to come out with it? They do know better. They do know what the result will be. They do know it won't be good.
But like a small child behaving badly when he KNOWS he's going to get into trouble, they say it anyway.
Before I go any further I want to remind you of an important thing here. We are talking about balance. This applies to the person as much as it does to the value of the opinion.
There are no saints and no sinners. (I wrote a whole blog on my thoughts behind that statement if you want to read it http://chovblog.blogspot.ca/2013/07/saints-and-sinners.html )
Humans do things we call good, and things we call bad. The same human can do both within a matter of minutes. It is crazy to write off a human with a statement, and just as crazy to write off the human making the statement.
Which brings me to the example.
I play this game with myself on social media where I get a point for everytime somebody makes a stupid statement, and I say nothing. (I get 2 points for ignoring it if it's a factual error, rather than an opinion.)
So I bring it here. And surprisingly this one came up two days before the gentleman with the beard opened his mouth.
I actually gave myself 3 points for ignoring the following:
"Hating those who hate homosexuals is just as bad as hating homosexuals."
No. It isn't. If you cannot see why it's different, we may have to go right back to step one, but this blog has already gone past the length where most people are willing to tackle it.
So, briefly, it's different because while both of these are opinions, which you are indeed entitled to, they are based on very different things.
Hating homosexuals is based on prejudice and bigotry. It doesn't matter if you "read it in the Bible", because it's a prejudiced and bigoted interpretation of said book. There are plenty of Christians who see it differently. So it's your choice to interpret it that way. There is no get out clause here. There is no passing the buck and blaming God. You have chosen to excuse your personal hatred by quoting scripture. That's pretty low. That's no different to beating your wife or child and quoting scripture. In fact virtually everything a human can do, can be justified by quoting scripture. And has been. Slavery, genocide, you name it.
But let's not forget, there are homophobes who are not religious. They don't even have a convenient excuse for it. I use the term homophobe deliberately. Some people object to it, saying they are not afraid of homosexuals. REALLY? So what's the problem then? How do they affect you if it's not causing an irrational fear? Phobia is a special type of fear, it's baseless. It's not like fear of tigers. Oh you find what they do disgusting, do you? Don't even get me started on that one. People who throw stones etc. But you know, I find prejudice disgusting, so......checkmate.
We won't dwell on this, if need be I can write another whole blog on the topic, done it before, bound to do it again. Suffice to say that one way or another an opinion like this, based on negatives such as hate, fear, elitism (oh yes it is, "I'm better than him") are a certain type of opinion, the lowest type of opinion. In a world where opinions have little value, these have the least of all.
Hating bigots is different. BTW, I don't like the word hate, but everyone else is using it, so I'm leaving it there. Hating bigots is based on righting a wrong. When I've said this before I've been told "two wrongs don't make a right." It's a very silly statement. Let me introduce you to the Paradox of Tolerance:
That's far more concise than I could ever be, but having been accused of "being intolerant of the intolerant" I understand it only too well.
Ultimately I think this is a form of logic that requires emotional intelligence to be fully understood, which is not something you hear from me very often, as I try to keep that aspect of things out of arguments.
But if we are to be fully wise, we must balance logic with kindness. I'd even be willing to let kindness take over, and throw logic right out of the window. I'd appeal to your better nature, assuming you have one.
James, my son, your balance of logic and kindness is second to none. Your recognition of the value of keeping mouths SHUT when judgements and opinions are not appropriate makes you wise beyond your years. I hope - I like to think - I have taught you well. Raise that little man to be that kind of man too. The world needs more of them.