Pete (pjc50) wrote,

Heated atmosphere

I have another half-formed thing to write, about loyalty and belonging. It would have been called "Loyalty: the most dangerous of the virtues", because I see it taking more and more of a role in people's conversation. Are you with us or against us? But the tone of online discussion has got a lot nastier just now.

I've long held a couple of unpopular political views which I keep quiet about because they are difficult and time-consuming to explain without someone jumping to conclusions, mistaking for something nasty, getting outraged and refusing to speak to you. I don't accept that because similar views are advocated by unpleasant people that I'm automatically wrong or evil regardless of my intent or thought process. In fact, I'm repeatedly told that it's wrong to assume that atrocities by members of a particular identity group reflect badly in any way on other members of that group. I wish I could get people to apply that principle consistently.

So I'm hedging here. I'm choosing to go no further because I prefer the quiet life. I don't need to be surrounded by people who agree with me, nor do I feel the need to go on condemn-athons of views or actions I dislike. I do however make very sure that I can trust people to actually listen to what I say and consider it before I open up to them. If not, it's fine; you can have some blandly conventional answer. Or a question in return. I like questions; they're a slow but effective means of undermining someone's offensive certainty. Ask the right question and watch someone row backwards to a more measured, nuanced, defensible position. Contradict them and they'll charge in, full steam ahead and damn the torpedoes.

(Traditionally Yeats gets roped into this: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst // Are full of passionate intensity." but also "Those that I fight I do not hate, // Those that I guard I do not love")
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