Friday, August 24, 2012

The Presumption Of Your Convictions

I hear people talk about having "the courage of your convictions." If you believe something, really believe it, then you have to have the courage to follow where it leads. Outside your comfort zone, outside your life, into the realm of unchallenged assumptions and people who aren't like you, who don't agree with you, who maybe think that you're doing the wrong thing, or maybe think that you're doing the right thing the wrong way, or who maybe just need your help in way that makes you profoundly uncomfortable... and maybe several, or even all, of those things at the same time.

What I don't hear about is the presumption of your convictions. That's... not exactly the opposite. It's not exactly a vice. It's just a natural human tendency to assume that the things that seem good and right and true and obvious to us, also seem -- or also should seem -- good and right and true and obvious to everyone else. As the Gershwins would say, it ain't necessarily so.

Now, there are times when I think I'm not a very good ally. I mean, there are people and issues that I feel strongly about - marriage equality is a good example - but I don't tend to be out there agitating for them. It's not apathy; it's something more like privilege. I don't spend a lot of time with people who disagree on these topics - I don't have to spend a lot of time with people who disagree on these topics - and as a result it's very easy to forget just how many of them are out there. It's the presumption of my convictions: because these things seem obvious to me, I assume they must be equally obvious to everyone else.

Well, not everyone, obviously... but the people who disagree are probably just statistical outliers. They couldn't possibly make up a significant voting block, let alone an entire political party. To be clear: yes, I know they do. But knowing it and feeling it are two different things.

...And that's a problem. As a practical matter, it makes very little difference if I don't care about an issue, or if I'm just not very aware of it; either way, I'm not helping.

So... I'm going to work on that. I'm going to try to be... not just more aware, but more active. I probably won't be talking about it much here on the blog; the blog exists mainly to amuse me, and hopefully anyone else who happens by. But it's something I'm going to work on.


  1. I've just in the past year or so started bellowing about social justice matters and the like (including the evil politics) on Facebook. I try not to be a PITA, but some of my more right-wing friends are not so considerate and occasionally turn my posts into political debate. ARRRGH.

  2. Yeah, I'm working on ways to redirect those responses into less argumentative directions. Results are... mixed.


Feel free to leave comments; it lets me know that people are actually reading my blog. Interesting tangents and topic drift just add flavor. Linking to your own stuff is fine, as long as it's at least loosely relevant. Be civil, and have fun!