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Worldwide Ace » For the Cause

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For the Cause

17 March, 2009 (10:46) | Philosophy


“We’ve been hanging out again,” she meekly muttered, a slanted smile creeping across her face. The “we” refers to her cheating ex-boyfriend.

“That’s not smart,” I replied derisively, immediately regretting the commentary. I simply couldn’t help myself. At least not any more than I could help shaking my head and rolling my eyes with demeaning disapproval. Given that just a week or two earlier, she angrily accused me of not caring about anyone during an argument about said ex, nearly terminating our friendship, this was probably not the best response.

Perhaps she didn’t notice because her eyes were trained wistfully at the sidewalk as we strolled or perhaps she chose to accept my commentary as an extension of who I am. Either way, the moment was gone as she sighed. “I know, I know…”

I throw opinions around like confetti, sprinkling every conversation with them. People know when I approve or disapprove of an action, even if I don’t argue the merits.

Approval shouldn’t be needed to do something, yet I consistently find that when people ask my opinion about something, they’re looking for approval. If I argue otherwise, they either get defensive and angry that I didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear, or they sullenly agree with me and lamely argue otherwise.

Neither of those responses make me happy, but caving in is one of my biggest pet peeves. If people love something, they should defend it, and there should be no guilt or wavering for doing so. It’s not necessary to be an absolutist on everything, but if it’s worth defending, there shouldn’t be any concessions.

I cringed as the words tumbled out of her mouth. “But I love him!” she cried. The door slammed behind her as the scene flickered on the screen, her mother’s hands on her hips.

It’s one of the great television cliches: the parent who forbids the child from a relationship. In the end, the relationship almost always ends in inevitable tragedy.

There’s one little word that turns her exit from a beautiful moment of defense to an immature and ill-conceived flourish: but.

That but is concession. It’s allowing that her mother is right in so much that she says. It’s admitting defeat in the argument and seeking refuge in another realm. It’s fleeing to the safety of the heart, inexpressible in words and untouchable by rule of law.

It’s rare I won’t argue something. It”s mostly because I learn from arguing. Arguing brings out different thoughts and perspectives, different facts and opinions. People who do argue with me know that I will change my position mid argument; I will contradict my earlier statements in favor of better positions; and I will try different techniques.

I will also readily—and I hope humbly—admit when I’ve been wrong and learned something.

But there is one thing I won’t do: cave in when I truly believe something.

I should have a business card that reads “First Amendment Absolutist” as the job description. If there’s one thing I never waver on, it’s freedom of speech. Someone can call me names or sling racial slurs, and while I might decry what they say, I would never try to block his or her right to say it.

This is something I truly believe in. And I would defend it with my life. There are no buts—no admissions that I could be wrong—when it comes to the First Amendment. It’s worth fighting for.

By the time we parted ways, the convesation had drifted away from the ex. There had been no argument or fight about it, my opinion left to hang there like a puff of smoke, slowly disappating in the air.

In a way, I was pleased. She hadn’t let my commentary change anything as far as I could tell. I was still bothered by her apprisal of my statement, caving just a little, but it didn’t matter.

In that moment, I was of no consequence. And it felt wonderful.