Opinions and Political Views Aren’t Fashion Accessories.

I read this post and threw up in my mouth ever so slightly: “People are too busy watching Miley twerk to realize that the honey bee problem is super serious, Monsanto is a monster, and we have no $ for our own country, but will somehow find millions of $$ to go to war. Kiss everything from almonds to blueberries goodbye.”

Another Facebook friend bites the dust and I’ve thrown up in my mouth before 8:30 am….again.  It wasn’t what was being posted but how it was being posted and who doing the posting as if guzzling PBR pounders with a bunch of tattooed bearded men and 1950’s pin up wanna-be women with crooked bangs holds more merit than discussing Miley. Sure it’s good when people form opinions based on a substantial understanding of an issue developed by digesting information from a number of sources and viewpoints but it seems too many these days pick their opinions and politics the same way they pick out a t-shirt, handbag or hairstyle.  “Um I’ll take the Ready-made point of view that flies in the face of the ‘establishment’ but is pc enough to be popular and fashionable with friends and why don’t you throw in a side of self-righteous indignation with that will ya!”   
“And for you sir?  “Oh I’ll go with Pastor Mike’s regurgitating political views with a side of what happened to family values and the glory days of America!?, please.   

Do you prefer hedge funds or mutual funds when investing for the long term? Do you think more regulations should be placed on hedge fund managers? Are you in favor of tort reform? Should there be a reduction in the statute of limitations of actions? Are string theory and the standard model comparable? Should asphalt or concrete be used in building the new highway across town? Political viewpoints and opinions aren’t fashion accessories and it’s ok to not have an opinion on something or be apolitical. In fact it’s probably better than pretending to know something you don’t. Nobody likes an EOE, an Expert on Everything ie someone who has never uttered the phrase I don’t know. Being an EOE leads to a lot of embarrassing situations like when my sister in law claimed a baby’s soft spot was where the fetus’s blowhole was while in utero because, of course ,infants breath like dolphins while in the womb. She scoffed when I suggested the soft spot was so the baby’s head could contract when passing through the birth canal.  I was actually putting together a top ten list of her most outrageous EOE statements but my wife banned me from publishing it. (I’ll be lucky if that dolphin comment doesn’t have me sleeping on the couch for a week.)

Every month we have a handful of new guys that come to our jujitsu gym and I can tell how they’re going to fair by how they answer our coach’s question “What other martial art have you trained in?” It’s the cocky guys and gals that claim to have trained for years in another martial art that usually end up learning the slowest, quitting, or getting hurt. They don’t come to learn jujitsu but to boost their ego and reaffirm the notion that they are indeed bad asses. When a girl half their size chokes them out they go into ego shock, their self-perception so badly shaken one of two things usually happens; they reinforce their warped view of themselves by getting angry, going harder and refusing to tap, which many times ends up with them getting hurt, they don’t learn anything and eventually quit or they get humble, realize they’re not what they thought and grow both in jujitsu and life. It may sound trivial but having your self-perception, especially your perceived masculinity, shattered in front of a group of peers is extremely humbling and forces one to reflect deeply and recalibrate their self-image.  ‘Ok if I could have been that off about how in shape I am or how tough I am what else am I deluding myself about?’ Jujitsu people are some of my favorites because they’re forced to be more honest with themselves.

.Another terrible feature of ‘just add water’ political views and opinions are the gapping logical holes they contain.  For instance in the ‘just add water’ liberal stance it’s ok to bash Christianity, even encouraged, but Islam is off limits. I tested this on my own FB page as well as with some troll accounts I keep for such experiments.  Negative blanket statements made about Christianity met a positive response from liberals while the same comments directed toward Islam caused outrage. On the opposite end of the spectrum I’ve posted things about the ridiculous beliefs of other religions and received positive responses from Christians but when I post about the ridiculousness of Christian beliefs they lose their minds. Hey wait weren’t you guys just poking fun at Vishnu? Now you’re defending speaking snakes and people being turned into pillars if salt? Hm. Please stop telling logic to fuck off just because you’re basing your political beliefs, concept of reality, and opinions on emotions. Have the intelligence and intestinal fortitude to explore issues with an open mind instead of searching for answers that fit into your worldview. My wife recently asked me “If aliens came to earth and starting eating humans would it be ok?” I fired off a quick. “No way!” “Ok but you eat meat!” “So” “Well why is it ok for you to kill and eat something? Probably because you justify it with the logic that you are far more intelligent than the animals you’re eating. If the aliens were thousands of times smarter than humans wouldn’t that make it ok?” “Well um yes I guess” It really made me think about the logical contractions in my own system of beliefs.

Maybe a lot of it stems from the extreme political correctness we seem to be mired in these days. Maybe it’s time to start calling people out, not in a vengeful sort of way but for their own good. If more people were confronted on their illogical, for fashion, ready-made political views and opinions it could be the equivalent of getting tapped out on your first day of jujitsu class by a petite mother of three. While I’m railing against political correctness let me add this. If a group, or an individual, wants to dehumanize me, or kill me, because I don’t believe like them, write something negative about their prophets, prefer vaginas to penises or penises to vaginas or any other such nonsense then I am going to call an asshole an asshole and tell them to eff off.

Sure we live in a Democracy but that doesn’t mean everyone has to have an opinion on everything, or that everyone has to vote. (In fact if you can’t answer some pretty rudimentary questions about history, national and international politics, geography and current affairs then you probably shouldn’t.) I grow weary of the bitter taste of vomit in the morning while skimming Facebook. Please friends, opinions and political views aren’t fashion accessories. 

Columnist Joshua Lorenzo Newett is a novelist, entrepreneur, and English professor at The Korean Naval Academy in Jinhae, South Korea. Saving Bill Murray, his second novel, was recently published here.

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