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 in which I am really glad 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 was walking past a display table of campaign materials for JFK I made some uninformed sarcastic remark. I don’t even remember what I said but it was a regurgitation of the, shall we say, low information folks that comprised my family and my 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 made for “us and them”. I think my comment was a repeat of the neighborhood ladies’ gossip. The Kennedy’s were, after all Catholic. Jackie Kennedy came from 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 was pregnant with 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 might actually have 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. Often when someone posts something I know has been clearly debunked I post the link to the Snopes review. I joke about having a three strikes and your out Snopes rule. I can’t do anything about the people who believe Snopes is run by somee vast conspiracy. I know I probably don’t influence too many people to think differently but I do hope we start the dialog. A respectful dialog.
Probably more important is what I call “preaching to the choir”. I feel it is important to let others know that they are not alone especially when they have presented well reasoned opinions. I will share their opinions and I am especially honored when they share mine.
Perhaps that will give that person the courage to confront a dumb blonde who has potential to learn.