From the September 2015 Archives
Causes, campaigns, elections. Everyone has an opinion. Or do they? I am dismayed at the number of people who seem to be anti-having any opinions or at least think you should keep them to yourself. Stay quiet. Keep your opinions to yourself.
“I DON’T TALK POLITICS; YOU CAN’T CHANGE ANYONE’S MIND.”
“DON’T BOTHER TO POST YOUR OPINION ON FACEBOOK – NO ONE CARES.”
I BEG TO DIFFER.
I do believe we can and should shine a light. We can make a difference. Whenever I feel that it’s no use, I remember an incident from my earlier years where someone had the nerve to confront me about something I had just said.
It was the early 60’s. I was in college, and John Kennedy was running for president. We had several students who were active in politics and had display tables in the student union building. As I walked past a display table of campaign materials for JFK, I made some uninformed sarcastic remarks. I don’t even remember what I said.
Still, it was a regurgitation of the low-information folks that comprised my family and neighbors. I lived in a blue-collar neighborhood where racism and religious intolerance was rampant. My people were intolerant of different races, different nationalities, Jews, Catholics, and about anything else that was made for “us and them .” My comment was a repeat of the neighborhood ladies’ gossip. The Kennedys were, after all, Catholic. Jackie Kennedy came from the so-called “high society .” This couple represented everything my family and the neighborhood ladies held in disdain. I made a smart remark about how the campaign was keeping her hidden.
A nicely dressed, very polite young man approached me. He was the kind of young man I was desperate to meet and impress. Oh, yes, I had impressed him all right. Impressed him with my ignorance. In a charming but authoritative manner, he explained why I was wrong. He politely pointed out that Mrs. Kennedy had a high-risk pregnancy and needed to rest and maintain her privacy. The blood rushed to my head. I was mortified. He saw me as a stupid blonde freshman, and I had proven the point. Never again!
I resolved to become informed. I followed the campaign, read news magazines, and did all I could to no longer be the dumb blonde. Not only did I learn to be more informed, but I also learned that just one person speaking out can make a difference. That young man changed my life and changed my way of thinking.
I think of this often as I listen to folks I perceive to be ignorant. Perhaps I can present information that has an impact. Someone might actually listen. I believe it can happen if we do it with respect. I don’t have to get in the fray, but I can educate. I post the link to the Snopes review when someone posts something I know has been clearly debunked. I joke about having three strikes, and you’re out of Snopes’ rule. I can’t do anything about the people who believe Snopes is run by some vast conspiracy. I probably won’t influence many people to think differently, but I hope we start the dialog. A respectful dialog.
Probably more important is what I call “preaching to the choir.” I feel it is essential to let others know they are not alone, especially when they have presented well-reasoned opinions. I will share their views, and I am especially honored when they share mine.
Perhaps that will give that person the courage to confront a dumb blonde who has the potential to learn.