“Fuck you very much”; how good manners have neutered conversations.

June 11, 2016

Socrates said that not every opinion needs to be respected, but today civility dictates that every one has a right to their opinion. It’s impolite to question the opinion or point out the holes in it. Whether the opinion causes harm to others is not of relevance. Neither is that not every one can really form a rational opinion.

Everything is acceptable after being labeled as a personal choice. No attention is being paid to what really classifies as personal. The moment your choice impacts another, the choice ceases to be personal. Maybe Holocaust can be explained away as Hitler’s personal choice and Tibet’s occupation as Mao’s personal choice. Maybe not. But, were those folks alive, questioning them would be rude.

Gandhi said “shake world gently”. The operative word being “shake”, but we are stuck with gently. There is a pervasive fear of being disliked, shunned lest we question someone’s choices and heavens forbid we make them uncomfortable. Boiling lobsters alive is okay. Questions that raise the temperature of the room, not.

The discomfort is not inherent to the question. It stems from people not having an answer. The question just highlights the divergence between what people say they believe and what they do. Answers originate not from analyzing and looking within, but from rationalizations supporting convenience and preferences. Well, screw that.

Reverend King said “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

I think it’s high time. If you care about something, don’t shy away from questioning people about their views on that topic. Maybe they’ll see the error in their ways or maybe you’ll learn something new. Either way, the world would have made progress.