Tuesday, December 13, 2005
When Did My Opinions Become So Vacillating?
When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I said whatever thought popped into my small but overactive brain in an attempt to learn more about my surroundings and the world to which I was a part of. I was inquisitive and curious, and formed opinions on things quickly and without hesitation. After all, it seemed easy to pick one side of an argument, over the other. Simply examine both sides and choose the one that made the most sense…it was easy. My loyalties were steadfast and I stuck to my guns, no matter how miniscule the topic of discussion happened to be. For instance, I might very well have been seen locked into a wrestling match with somebody who believed that Superman was cooler than Spiderman. Obviously, whatever kid thought that was stupid, and needed my size 5 Velcro shoes up his OshKosh B'Gosh ass. Back then, taking sides seemed natural.
I’m not sure when it happened, or what cathartic event transpired that would cause me to shift my perspective, but lately I have noticed that when it comes to “important” debates I find myself almost always on the fence. I not only see both sides of the argument, but I see them so well and so clearly that I find it hard to form an opinion on which is the “correct” point of view. Many times I have examined something on the news that is causing some form of controversy, only to find myself agreeing with both sides and then moving on with my life. I did not used to be this way. Ask anybody I went to high school with about topics such as abortion, the death penalty, war, homosexuality, sports, racism, or anything else you can think of. The odds are, they will be able to say without hesitation and with little difficulty what my view on that particular issue was at that time. Nowadays, you would be lucky to guess what type of juice I like to drink.
I’m sure that one of the reasons for my recent trend of indecisiveness stems from taking philosophy in college. Those classes are the epitome of there is no answer, which is bound to cause some confusion in opinionated individuals such as myself. When I first read philosophy questions such as “What is truth?” and “Is knowledge even possible?” my mind began to swirl with possibilities and the answers to difficult questions. During my freshman year at college, you could find me muddling over whether or not insects had souls, or find me trying to prove that color is an illusion. I’m fairly certain that it was during this time that my brain began its path towards hesitation and universal agreement. This was also the time that I figured out that sex does not help you find love, and Pro Wrestling is fake.
Another reason that I’ve been sitting on the fence lately is probably caused by time, and its effect on the mind. As I’ve gotten older, some of my opinions have changed based on personal experience and learning. For instance, I used to believe that going to a loud, busy dance club on a Friday night was the best way to hang out with friends and have a good time. Now, I find it is much more enjoyable to go to a bar and socialize with these same friends in an atmosphere that stimulates discussion and laughing. It is more appealing to me, because I have found that the benefits to such an atmosphere outweigh the benefits of going to a dance club. This same style of thought can be applied to other areas of my life, including religion and even food. This is probably why most older people don’t eat Big Macs at 2:00am after a night of heavy drinking and socializing…they’ve figured out that it’s not the best thing to be doing. So maybe we can say that my inability to choose a side comes from just getting older. Now, turn down that damn rap music so I can continue! Damn kids.
I could sit here and write a dozen more reasons for why I find it hard to choose a side, and none of them would come any closer to answering the question that I posed in my title. I could say that it involves the empathy of seeing the other person’s side of things, which makes it harder to continue to see things from my side, alone. I could postulate that my indecisiveness derives from seeing the futility in arguing and debating topics, since talking about something will never change the course that a particular event or topic will travel. Maybe my cynicism doesn’t allow me to form opinions. Maybe I’m afraid to commit to things, now that I’m getting older and the threat of death looms over my head like a black cloud of inevitability. Maybe the decision center of my brain was zapped away by years of fermented hops and bong resin.
The truth is, I’m not positive about why I can’t seem to commit to a side anymore, but I think it has something to do with fear. I think fear may be the cause of most of our problems. Fear motivates us to do wonderful things, this is true…but it also holds us back. It makes us drive slower and eat healthier food and think before we speak. It causes us to look both ways, hold our tongues, and look before we leap. In this world of infinite possibilities and choices, I find it highly plausible that the main reason for me to not choose sides, is because that is the safest route to take. If you don’t form an opinion, then you can’t be wrong. As any poker player will tell you, you can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle. So perhaps I find it is easier to sit on the fence, than to pick a side to jump over to.
If that is the case, then it is unacceptable. We should never be afraid of telling our viewpoints, or taking a side in a debate. So what if you think the wrong thing, or choose the wrong side? You can always change your mind, you have that right. I think it’s written down somewhere. Besides, who is to say that your opinion is necessarily wrong? I’m sure that Superman kid thought he was right, and I was wrong. Big deal. It doesn’t change the fact that we liked different things, and were vocal about it. I’m going to stop being afraid to choose a side. From now on, I’m going to jump off the fence and stick to my guns.
That having been said, I’ve come up with a list of topics, along with the side I have chosen to take for each topic. This is my way of trying to become an opinionated individual, again. Enjoy.
10 Things I Believe in:
-The death penalty
-A higher power and an infinite universe
-Big breasts are attractive
-Country music is crap
-Red meat is good for you
-Stem Cell research is good
-College sports are better than pro sports
-OJ Simpson is guilty
-Michael Jackson is innocent
-Saying "One Nation, Under God" during the Pledge of Allegiance
10 Things I Do Not Believe in:
-Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone
-The Electoral College
-Putting sugar in pasta sauce
-The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was motivated by racism
-Enemas make you more healthy
-US Courts favoring the mother for child custody
Some things I'm still on the fence about:
-The new colors of M&M's
-Jokes about Jesus
PS: You had to look up the word vacillating, didn't you? Admit it.