Ever find yourself in a position of being at odds with those around you? Of liking something, for example, that many others don't?
A movie? A musician? A book - or broader yet - the author of books?
And how does it make you feel? Can you be cavalier about it and shrug it off?
In the face of peer pressure, we all tend to shrink, I've found. And that leaves you feeling icky. Like you've dipped yourself in a vat of moral molasses.
If you fight for you views, you risk becoming a boor. If you don't, you suffer the slings of your own conscience, and he (or she) is the most brutal of them all.
I would love to sit here and tell you that I am the former, and that I wallow in my churlishness. That I am capable of taking a shoe off every once in awhile and bang it on a desk to make my point. That I am capable of thumping my chest and telling those with whom I disagree the twelve reasons why I am right and that they can all go pound sand for all I care.
The truth is, I tend to take the path of least persistence when it comes to arguing my position. And boy, can I argue. Just ask ... shit, anyone who knows me.
But that's in hand-to-hand combat. When squared off against a tribe, I tend to tuck tail.
Now, in my defense, I will tell you that I don't just sit there and shrug and say "Awe shucks. You're right. About everything."
I'm much more clever than that. More than likely, what I say is along the lines of "Well, I disagree. I really don't know why ... I just (hate Neil Diamond) or (love Jim Carrey) or (prefer not to read anything by Nicholas Sparks)..."
It's not a defense of my position, if you'll notice. It's a cop out to a degree. It's a way to show opposition by not being oppositional. You're saying you disagree, but not getting into it.
If I had balls, I would lay out an argument the way Tom Cruise does in A Few Good Men when he's giving it to Jack Nicholson. Man, I wish I had that kind of presence, the kind of iron conviction that what I am saying is the absolute moral truth.
And Aaron Sorkin as my scriptwriter.
But I don't. My scriptwriter is more like Fielding Mellish, Woody Allen's neurotic character in the movie Bananas. In it he's on the subway and sits by as an old woman gets mugged by Sylvester Stalone and some other cronies. He goes to such great lengths to not get involved that even when the woman is being assaulted practically in his lap he just keeps his nose in his newspaper.
I am that way in crowds of dissenters. The one who buries his head in a newspaper while my convictions get mugged by the mob.
I don't have a specific or current example. I just get thinking every so often of the small instances in my life in which I am confronted with something contrary to my own beliefs.
Like, for example, the folks lingering around local Wal-Marts trying to get you to sign a petition to ban gay marriage.
Instead of telling them precisely why their efforts are - in my opinion - akin to something you would read about in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts ... or Congressional hearings in the 1950s ... I clamp shut and just say No Thanks.
Or, for another example, the whole concept of vacation bible school and how it's so blatantly Hansel and Gretel in its inception. Luring children to Jesus with promises of games and crafts and good times. Why not just put out a banner that says "Kids: Come here to learn about Jesus. Singing, praying, and bible reading" and see how many actually show up?
But I digress...
I do not have the oratory faculties to present a public argument strongly, something I had to face a long time ago.
I do love to write, however, and can spin a grand indictment of something. But I wonder if that isn't cheating a little. A verbal discourse takes intellect, patience, politics, and timing. Writing has all of that ... but the advantage of multiple drafts.