In our enlightened modern society, it has become increasingly difficult to have a simple little thing like, an opinion.
It used to be said, "Never talk about Religion and Politics." Well that list seems to be growing. Now it is nigh on impossible to hold an opinion publicly on any number of newly taboo, hot button topics. Subjects such as; Climate Change, Asylum Seekers, Same Sex Marriage, Euthanasia, Abortion, Indigenous Rights and many more.
Dare to express an opinion that is contrary to the accepted mainstream view, i.e. the one that is most loudly trumpeted in the media by the overly vocal minority activist, and you get labelled "Hater," in a flood of intolerant backlash. It matters not if your views are indeed hateful or not, it has been expressed, and it differs to theirs, that is enough.
There have been many instances in the past year, of people being publicly castigated, even persecuted for their traditional views on marriage. Orson Scott Card, and the CEO Of Mozilla for instance. They have been labelled "Hateful" simply because they hold an opinion, dared to express it, or acted on the conviction of their belief.
But this is not a new phenomena, and it is not unique to a select few. It is common to all of us. We view life through an emotional cloud. We attach identity to issues.
A common joke in journalism, I'm sure you've heard it, says. "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story."
Well I fear we tend to do just that. Why don't we take the opposite stance. Let's try this.
Don't let a good story get in the way of the facts.
This was highlighted to me recently, in one of those tedious emotionally charged posts that circulate in social media.
This one was about some guy in Africa, who worked with Elephants. The post was wrought with highly emotive details about how all these Elephants walked for "days" to stand at his property to mourn his death. A beautifully told story. But it wasn't true. Well the part about his death was true.
Then I looked at the comments below the post, because quite honestly, I smelled a rat. Sure enough, there were comments from people that had bothered to do the research, and proved the inaccuracies in the tale.
Predictably, there was a backlash, comments along the lines of. "I don't care what truth you have dug up from wherever, it's a beautiful story." Yes, but it's not true. That's the problem, the story got in the way of the facts.
We all do it. We attach too much importance on a fictional T.V. character. We take ownership of an issue, we hold to a particular political party, a football team or code, and all else fades from view. Our attachment clouds our vision, worse, it clouds our ability to reason.
I'm about to take a very treacherous journey into the unknown. I'm writing a book, it's my second, but this one's a novel, my own creation. Today, I finished the second draft. Like most writers, I'm very close to it, too close in fact. So I have to submit it to some first readers. I no longer know if it is a good story or even well written. I've read and reread, rewritten, edited, scrapped bits, added other bits and generally spent so much time staring at the words that I am no longer certain. I have to let go. I have to entrust this thing to others. I need an objective view.
I'm writing this today, to remind myself, to step out of the emotional cloud, and face the facts. Whatever they may be. Hopefully, it will make me, and my writing, stronger.