Last weekend, while dining out with my family, one of the world’s most dangerous people sat in the booth next to us. She was right. She was sure. She knew that Muslims had demons in them, that Obama would steal the election and that Christians were being killed all over the world. She referred to Democrats as “them” and “those people”. She made sure everyone at the table prayed to a Christian god. She spoke confidently, stridently and in a loud tone that would brook no disagreement. She was absolutely, unquestionably right.
I hesitate to bring up politics and religion in one blog post. If I bragged about money or gave out unsolicited advice about how to raise your children, I will have violated every rule of civility and polite discourse. Worst of all, I don’t know that I’d be right about anything. People who vociferously spout their opinions at every opportunity will say that I lack commitment to my values and beliefs. I have been right at certain points in my life, usually at times when I was young and/or drunk. Since I’m sober and more mature, there is no end to my lack of knowledge, hence no opinion I’d be willing to defend as absolute.
Admittedly, I’m a social liberal, fiscal conservative and a registered Independent. Which means that I believe compromise is the only way to move things forward. Unfortunately, I rarely have all the facts to know what that compromise should be. Most of us don’t, which means a lot of us are being led by our noses, don’t care or have committed to whatever side seems least likely to send our country into the abyss. We’re picking the lesser of two or three evils and then standing behind the candidate as if they shot out our very own birth canals, which would resolve all this chatter about birth certificates (you’ve got one, right?).
As a relatively new blogger, I spend a lot of time perusing other blogs, just in case I don’t feel inferior enough. There are some awesome, informative and well written blogs out there. I can easily spend more time reading them than on my Wikipedia link-clicking ADD trips. Then I run across a few that are spewing venom right out of my monitor. I can only handle a few minutes, before I start wringing my hands on behalf of humanity. The hate. I just don’t get the hate – against entire genders (both sides and in-between the aisles), against cultures, religions, political parties or cats (oh, wait, that was me).
The world’s most dangerous people are those that know they are right and that everyone else “just doesn’t get it”. I admire people who can effectively argue what they believe to be right, but effectiveness turns on a couple of things:
1) Is the argument logical and well-supported or is it repetitious hammering explained in the most lengthy way possible?
2) Have they resorted to name calling when it doesn’t make sense? The weakest blogs usually include a lot of #2 (yes, yes, I have resorted to potty humor). Some misanthropic sycophants may stick around to hang out with the bully, but the depressing nature of hate sends me away. Tongue in cheek is funny, but that’s with the understanding that you’re actually in on the joke.
I’ve made the mistake of reading one post by an author and commenting positively on it. Tip: Always, always read the About page and other posts before engaging a blogger. Now, in perpetuity, I will have commented positively on a blog that perpetuates hostility and division. I believe that it’s good to know all sides of an argument, but there is the huge, dark irrelevant side that insinuates itself into a debate.
Separating the wheat from the chaff, the informative from the bullying, is a challenge. Thinking critically, in a time when we’re being overloaded with so many emphatic messages, means all those advertising and campaign dollars are wasted on me. Maybe that makes me just a little more dangerous than someone who is right.