An Explanation

I was reading about the outrage against MoveOn.org over their recent ad -- evidently they made a play on the word "Petraeus" -- and how most of the presidential candidates have been falling over themselves to discredit it.

*I'll* discredit it, personally -- I despise all puns -- and I reeeeally don't want to get into a political discussion with the people reading this site, nor anyone else, but it does seem like a good time to mention why I haven't been posting more often.

I'm in a funny place. I know I don't know everything anymore, and I recognize that my newfound perspective and humility -- that's what I like to call it -- makes me considerably more boring than I was before. The person who could post seventeen paragraphs of resplendent vitriol here, not that I ever did... that guy's gone. His certainty and sense of mission, and charisma, have been handed off to some other young chump.

Now I consider myself every bit as fallible as the next guy. "What do I know?" is the non-battle cry of this peculiar era in my development. We're not back to Pyrrhonian skepticism or anything; it's just that I feel about most things now the way I feel about this MoveOn thing:

My opinion on the subject is obvious, and so obviously sensible that it's not even worth stating. Climbing up on a soapbox to declare their First Amendment right to free speech, and to point out the chillingly fascist intolerance of those who say they "ought to be thrown out of the country" for exercising it, would be about like holding a press release to say circles are round.

I don't want to be that guy.

And I also know that not everybody actually would agree with the opinion I just claimed was "obvious," but c'mon: I'm never going to convince those people otherwise, no matter what I say or do, so why bother?

So if I'm not a chimer-inner and I'm not a you're-a-dolt-er, which I definitely am not, anymore, what can I be?

It's a sticky wicket. But I guess I can just ride this thing out, whatever it is, and keep concerning myself with trivial stuff like motorcycles, and language, and cats who watch television. It's only the items of no consequence that I feel qualified to speak on. It's only the secondary points I'm interested in making.

For instance, while I don't see myself on the podium, banging my fist and shouting and spraying those flecks of spit you always imagine clinging to the microphone, I *do* see myself off to the side, making little notes about how the crowd is reacting.

And later, when I review those notes, and wonder aloud if most of those people weren't staying quiet because they believed what the speaker was saying, but because, just maybe, like me, they just couldn't think of any useful reaction, maybe *then* I'll have found the something I have to say.

And if not, I suppose I'll just quote someone famous and hope I sound profound:

""Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1922


Anonymous said...

Then nothing can ever change. Just the ones who speak the loudest or spit the most, regardless of how wrong or right they are, will run things because all the little voices, which become a big voice banded together, will feel like they cannot make a difference.

I think it's good to be humble, but also good to have opinions. Even if those opinions change eventually.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your post; I often feel the same way. Or sometimes I feel lazy, like I start to form an opinion and compose a post in my head but then the emotion peters out after a couple days and it's like, "What's the point?" I am also a conflict-avoider and gray-area thinker who sometimes sees both sides of the issue a little *too* well. Only as I have grown into a stronger Christian have I started to learn the art of respectfully and gracefully disagreeing with others. I mean, is it really admirable to expectorate on microphones like Hitler did, or shouldn't we rather be quietly persuasive like Jesus, Gandhi, and the Dalai Llama. But that doesn't make exciting news clips and sound bites, does it?