(I know it was a couple of days ago – I never post things straight away!)
If the truth be told, we’re all a bit confused – that is, if we allow ourselves to be. Opinions are all around us – left and right, right and left, front and back, back and front. As many opinions as you would care to shake a stick at.
About what you ask? Just about everything! It’s almost fair to say that if you’re not confused, you’re not thinking! But confusion is not a pleasant place to be, so we tend to work our way out of it as quickly as we can.
I remember reading a book by Helen Garner (the First Stone) written back in the early nineties about a provocative event that had occurred at the time – something about a head of a university department being sacked for making a drunken pass at a female student. The book was compelling reading as Helen weighed in to it all, trying to sort out what had really happened and whether the punishment fit the crime. She was concerned that, even if the guy was guilty, the backlash was way out of proportion to the crime, and driven significantly by feminist goals. Well, that put her fair and square in the sights of prominent feminists in Melbourne.
Months after the book had been released, and after responding to attack after attack on her views and the book’s contents, one commentator stated that the most endearing feature of her book, her uncertainty, had long since gone. She had had to defend herself and in the process became certain and dogmatic about a lot of things. Interestingly, many have still not forgiven her. Feminists of today routinely blame her for siding with the guy (which I don’t think she was doing), and for ascribing any kind of sexual power to the girl in question (which is fair enough but at least it should have been, even briefly, examined). My impression from the book was that she was simply trying to make sense of things objectively rather than apply a feminist pattern to the event, and that was what I appreciated most – not whether she was right in the end or not.
As I mentioned, she ended up becoming quite dogmatic in her stance. And that’s the problem. It would be easy to remain confused, to admit we don’t have the whole picture, but life moves on, and often we need to make a decision. So the confusion gets sorted, because it has to, and we may end up convincing ourselves that we really do know what we believe and why. But do we?
I know these blogs help me to work out what I believe on something. I start off with a topic, bend my mind to what I think, let things pour out, gain some insight, tidy up my blog to reflect that insight, and post it. But do I really know that I’m right?
No, of course not. I am much more clear in my thinking, and that’s a good thing. But woe is me if then decide that I KNOW the answer now. No, all I know is that I’m further down the road with that topic, and I would be wise to be as open as possible to being corrected or educated by someone or something else.
The fact is we can’t afford to remain confused. Life is busy – we have to move on. And that’s okay – that’s the way it should be. But let’s not hold on to our own views as if they are gospel truth. By all means let’s defend them against trite and weak arguments, but let’s not fall into the trap of defending them against all comers. That way lies bias, prejudice, and delusion. God forbid we let that happen – there’s already too much of that in the world as it is.