John Boston | Sometimes, Your Opinion Can Be Pretty Darn Stupid

Years ago, I had a gal pal. She was a competent, flirty-skirty attorney. We agreed on many things, except of course, politics. Being a lawyer, she passionately loved debate. 

Or so she thought. This woman was a sharp cookie, platinum resume, many courtroom scalps. She argues in front of people in black robes, probably who are not wearing underwear. She said she wanted to understand why I believed the crazy things I did — like freedom, dignity, ethics, morality, the sanctity of the soul, the individual over the state, and honesty. 

“And you?” I asked. “What does your party stand for?”

Like many of her tribe, she couldn’t answer. She had accusations. Conspiracies. Wild worship more comfortable in the Dark Ages when people sacrificed animals because they thought there was some magic connection between goat lower intestines and the onion crop.

She was the second attorney who gave me the exact, same, chilling response. She said she “knew someone” who was “real smart” and could define for her, a college graduate, that which made her march and yell while under the shade of a vagina hat.

Bless her heart, for a long moment, she considered her own nomination — another attorney — then shook her head and sighed. “No. You’d eat his lunch. And breakfast.”

Another friend. Another failure to worship his beliefs. He fell to frustration and anger before blurting: “You use —words!!”

“Words — BAD!” I answered, in my best playful Frankenstein’s monster imitation. Except he wasn’t laughing. 

My lawyer gal pal summarized that I was just supposed to believe her. That’s what friends do. She told me that she hoped that I could just respect her beliefs — period — no matter what they were.

“You HAVE to respect my beliefs!!”

It seems like a polite, sincere and innocent request. 

Nope.

Don’t gotta.

Ditto with: “Everyone deserves to have their beliefs respected.”

It drips with sincerity. It exudes passion, which can so easily be confused with honesty.

“Everyone deserves to have their beliefs respected.”

I wonder. Is that how we’ve gotten into so much trouble today?

People passionately believe in stupid things. They have for millennia. Have you ever thought that the greatest minds, the wisest souls of the day, believed that the sun was towed across the sky in a chariot driven by a man with really good hair? Or that Earth sat on the back of a giant turtle.

Don’t be the wise guy teen and ask: “So what does the turtle stand on?”

For endless human time, elders would arrange entire cultures — their very identity — around goofball stories.

There are members of Congress, and a man who narrowly missed being president, who believe the world is going to end in less than 10 years. 

Their solution is to create a giant, kind government and turn the country into an Orwellian nightmare, except that government and movie stars get to sort of live la bella vita while the rest of us get to listen to their speeches on sacrifice.

“Everyone deserves to have their beliefs respected.”

Really?

What if their beliefs are, oh, say — stupid? I mean, demonstrably so and not in a lame, name-calling fashion.

People by the tens of thousands have turned this state’s communities into concrete Yellowstone. Tents. Trash. Zombies and lost souls abound. Have you driven the freeways at night recently? It’s dystopian. Three major highways converge and it’s pitch black. The other side, the one painted in green, makes it illegal to clear brush.

For years.

They’re surprised when epic fires erupt, consuming communities. People may no longer be arrested for what used to be called crimes. Or leaving steaming presents on our city streets. But we do have a multi-billion-dollar train to nowhere in California. To mention it might offend someone’s beliefs.

I remember a while back, driving through Beverly Hills. There’s this, I’m guessing, at least a $10-million mansion. On the outer maximum security wall is a peace sign made of sparkling Christmas lights and the blinking word: “RESIST!”

There’s a belief.

This wealthy person honestly believes that his side — the one that controls education, government, the media, entertainment, the courts and social media — is somehow the victim in some noble cultural battle. That person behind the wall is not a millionaire, but a multi-millionaire. When you have most of the power, who, or what in the hell, are you resisting? Yourself?

This country has gotten into trouble because we’ve bargained for peace at any price. Don’t offend. “Don’t wanna make those guys mad…”

Big secret?

They’re mad to begin with. They get out of bed mad and are a fist screaming through the universe searching for a face to strike. To affably chuckle and assure you respect their beliefs makes the bottomless pit of anger and insanity only deeper. It emboldens them to larger acts of insanity. A daily check of the headlines is proof.

It is quite possible to love someone — dearly — and point out firmly, while making your case, that no, you don’t necessarily respect their views. 

Why? 

Because, like goat sacrificing, it either works or it don’t…

John Boston is a local writer and author.

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