Friday, April 19, 2024

You right,  I wrong . . .  and then?


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STOP THAT! Stop behaving as though you are on an opinion binge and looking to be on a side – the “right” side – of an issue.
As though it must be the Democratic Labour Party’s side or the Barbados Labour Party’s side when in fact it could be neither or a bit of both mixed with what neither side put forward or most of one and some of the other.
Life is seldom cut and dried, categorically one side or the other. Nuance, people. We brag about our education. Well, if a major product of our education system is not nuanced thinking, it en no education to brag about.
Perhaps the problem comes from people believing that having opinions on topical issues is central to living. And since, of course, there is always a division of opinion, the great passion becomes to be on the “right” side.
This may surprise you, but there are a lot of daily talking points about which I do not have a position. You know why? Two main reasons. Firstly, in many cases I do not have the time or energy or the means to seriously acquire the relevant knowledge and bring to bear the resources of logic, wisdom and spirit necessary to engage the particular issue.
Opinion junkies
Secondly, sometimes I can’t see how it matters to me to engage the issue. Yes, it is out there, but does that mean I have to talk about it, that I must have a position on it? Do I have to be like George Mallory, who, when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, answered, “Because it’s there”?
Looka, I have enough trouble thinking straight about the issues of my own life, and the lives of my family and whoever else I have actual responsibility for – and things that I am going to do something about. And I am going run my mouth (or my pen) about whatever issue turns up?
But people do it all the time. Take the incident of a baby found dead in a car a little while ago. Why did people feel that they had to – absolutely had to – pontificate on the father’s culpability or otherwise? Because they are opinion junkies?
Well, ah does try for nuance in my views, so I will say that I understand that discussing issues is part of greasing the wheels of interaction with others; I see, too, that it does a mind good to get clarity on some things.
Devilish backlash
But these things are infrequently at play as words become swords, as people hog conversations, as they refuse to listen, as they refuse to apply nuanced thinking, as one-upmanship and egomania rule the day.
In these circumstances, even that which may have noble possibilities often degenerates into unsustainable categoricalness, as well as judgementalism, recklessness in the face of lack of information, illogic, side-picking, and insensitivity and ill-treatment of both opposing discussants and people at the heart of the actual issue.
The Alexandra situation is, to me, something of an object lesson in reckless earnestness about expressing an opinion/taking sides. A Barbadian human being (not an emigrated giant African snail) said of the teachers who have now been transferred from the school: “I don’t care wha happen to duhm. Dey handle it wrong.”
   Who, in fact, is more perverse? – possibly wrong-headed teachers or a “right” opponent who is so shamelessly lacking in righteousness that they can stomach what may be a devilish backlash?
That is where the god of expressing opinion and taking sides can lead you.
Flavour of the day
Thus, this question: what are you hoping to achieve by being so committed to discussing the stuffing out of an issue you can’t impact or, if truth be told, have neither the intention nor the disposition to do anything about, even if you could?
Might the time not have been better spent discussing your actual life? Your struggles? Your yearnings? Your joys? Your overcomings? That dyslexic child? That alcoholic spouse? That challenging teenager? Love and its many splendoured and not so splendoured sides? Your fears about growing old or changing jobs or surviving as an entrepreneur? Your dissatisfaction with your spirit?
Often, in discussing whatever is the flavour of the day topical issue, we gain the company of the “right” side, while we go alone into the dark sides of our own lives. Because expressing opinion rather than living (up) is our greatest interest.
So, you right and I wrong – and then what? How, then, do you live now that you are on the “right” side? Is your treatment of others improved? Or do you now live in sweet victory in your head?
Real life is about far more than being on the “right” side – and it is not a contest.
 Sherwyn Walters is a writer who became a teacher, a song analyst, a broadcaster and an editor. Email


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