Lately I’ve realized that as I go about my day I have an opinion on just about everything. I don’t mean to. I mean, it’s like I’m slowly becoming one of those old farts who sits around and opines about sports teams, politics, cosmology, the Youth of Today, motor oil, etc. I’ll leave it “as an exercise for the student” to picture a balding, uncomfortably overweight man sitting in a tattered, overstuffed chair, a can of beer sitting on the worn fabric of its arm. He is wearing over-sized work pants, a white, rib-fabric wife-beater T-shirt, and, unknown to him, his greasy lensed glasses are askew, all around him there is an aura of body odor that you can almost see.
The red flag of social accountability and political correctness swings up, and I hasten to add that I’m kidding. Except for the bald part, that’s not me. And I hope not the opinionated part. Is it old age? Am I just tired of being wrong, gottdammit?
Because I am wrong–frequently. The trouble is, you can’t tell. Not right away. Internally, in one’s mind, being wrong feels exactly like being right, as someone once said. High blood pressure is bad, but this sneaky wrongness is really the silent killer.
My mind went in this direction lately because my friend, Jo, and I have lots of discussions about politics, and that naturally leads to speculation as to why “the other” people are wrong. How can they maintain the faith, I ask myself, that requires such mental wrestling with the facts. The pretzel logic of it all, and all that.
Like driving, and sex probably, and thinking, everybody thinks they are good at running the government from their armchair. And as in driving, and sex probably, and thinking, all humans are probably clustered pretty close together on a scale of ability from 1-100, placing us all around one or two points somewhere on that scale.
Because of this, I think the proper response to another’s political opinion, if one were so disposed to engage at all, would be to first assume the opinionator is as smart as one’s self, (until demonstrated otherwise,) and is simply operating with a different set of data. Problem: there is no wrong answer to the question, what is your favorite vegetable, but data is data, and sometimes data is wrong. Or, sometimes, it is so incomplete as to be misleading or useless. And how do you know? And once you do know, how far can you extrapolate? It all resembles a bunch of little kids using up the whole recess arguing on the playground. And I say that with all respect and fondness for humanity.