My parents had two related, but different, philosophies on how to raise me. My father always wanted me to develop world-views on my own, and never pressured me on anything. My mother, whilst supporting the idea of open-mindedness, also explicitly told me that nonsense is nonsense, so that Andrew Bolt, the Liberal Party, and any remotely critical views of the Chinese government were not worth discussing. Overall, I think my dad won out, because my teenager-parent-hating-years were spent with my mum, so I’ve kept a fairly open and malleable mind to most situations.
One thing this open-mindedness led to is my gullibility. Sadly, I’m always the one who falls for the ‘did you know they took gullible out of the dictionary’ jokes. But another annoying thing is that my political views are swayed as easily as a blade of grass in the wind or an SUV whilst turning. I’d like to say that this only happens when an opposing viewpoint is valid, but there seems to be a relatively valid viewpoint every damn time.
The first time I read about the gender pay gap, for instance, I was outraged, and brought statistics about gender pay inequalities and the misogyny of corporate fat-cat-white-male CEOs to far more conversations than was necessary (yeah, I was ‘that guy’). But one day, someone hit me with a blinder: CEOs are just trying to save money whenever there’s an excuse; they’re not truly sexist, or else they wouldn’t be hiring women at all. Equipped with this new perspective, I went to conversations telling people to stop being so naive and that CEOs are just trying to save money. Someone then shot back with ‘it doesn’t matter if they think women are actually worse workers, they’re paying less because of gender and as such they’re sexist’. Again, my views turned, and I went to conversations with a renewed sense of outrage at sexism, only to be shut down again when someone mentioned that the pay gap is mostly due to maternity leave. Now, I just stay away from the issue, and non-feminists think I’m a feminist whilst feminists think I’m a dinosaur.
Another good example is the issue of euthanasia. Now, no one really opposes euthanasia, do they? Not anyone that I’ve met at least. But on an episode of Q&A (the watching of which totally makes me a seasoned political commentator), Paul Kelly mentioned an issue: if euthanasia was an option available, older people who are not in any terminal illness but see themselves being a financial burden on their children may feel pressured to take this option, with, or importantly, without suggestion from their children.
You know what? Paul “Howard’s-Innocent-in-Children-Overboard” Kelly makes an annoyingly good point. Now I don’t know what to think about euthanasia. And this pretty much sums up my views on most political issues. See, I’ve discovered that, in reality, there are three, not two, points of view – the popular one, which is right, the unpopular one, which is also right, and mine, which is always wrong. The only way I can seem smart in political conversations is to say the opposing viewpoint and mention that ‘it’s not necessarily 100% true, but X-viewpoint is an interesting way of thinking about it’. Basically, I’m a wanker in those conversations.
Well, either all of what I’ve written is true or I just don’t have any debating skills. Sometimes I wish I turned out more like mum.