Tuesday, July 14, 2009

You Be The Judge

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.


  1. You don't have balls? I never knew....


  2. Out in public when presented with petitions for prayer in school or to ban gay marriage I also say No Thanks unless pressed. My time is too valuable to engage in arguing with strangers.

    Now, for VBS. I participate and teach the Bible lesson portion of VBS at our church. We do not advertise, but we do invite. It is pretty clear that we are going to be learning Bible verses and hearing some kind of Jesus related stories. Lure? Well my kids enjoy it. I am sure there are church groups that do lure in a deceptive manner but not all do. I think the title "Vacation Bible School" is pretty explanatory. But that is just me.
    Now I am sure that not many people who send their kids to our VBS know that one of the "guides" is an Atheist and that his wife teaching the Bible lesson is a foul mouth gay loving liberal. :)

  3. Hallie: Shows you what you know.

    (na na na na poo poo!)

    BeautifulWreck: Um...I meant all VBS except yours


    (and I married a foul-mouthed gay-loving liberal, so Rock On!)

  4. I think I can make a pretty good public argument, but only up to a point. If it becomes obvious that: A)It's useless to argue with morons/closed-minded people, or B) Arguing my point any longer will jeopardize my relationship with these people, then I back off. After all, I want people to like me, really like me. Is that wrong?

  5. It depends...if it is something I believe in down to the sticky marrow of my bones then I stick to my guns (usually moral issues), but if it's a matter of likes/dislikes then I try to keep an open-mind and remember when I used to be that ignorant...really, I'm kidding - I respect the views of others even if I don't agree. BTW, who do you like to read other than that Andrew Scott Turner guy? Ruling out Nicholas Sparks of course. Oh, and I think it's perfectly acceptable to beat your shoe on the table to make a point...if you do it while they're on then they'll listen up a little quicker. Purely speculative of course.

  6. Crap..I spelled politics wrong....

  7. I don't argue because I hate confrontation. I want people to like me and honestly sometimes I don't feel I would come across as having a clue if I did argue over polotics or schools or vaccinations(that is a big one in my circle). So I keep my lips closed tight and carry on as if I agree with everyone. That's me...a total cop out.