This age of sharing – on Twitter, on Facebook and on blogs – brings into focus how we all have different things that we feel very strongly about. For example, some people will feel very strongly that the previous sentence is grammatically incorrect. They might unfollow me, or decide never to read my novels because I am clearly an illiterate fool. I have an opinion, backed up by some stuff, about why the sentence is actually okay. But I don’t feel that strongly about it. If my editor changed it, I might query the edit, or mildly explain my position, But at the end of the day, I’d let the change go.
Oscar – oh boy, do people have strong feelings about THAT. I made a comment on Twitter and half of Twitter attacked me, and the other half retweeted me and followed me like a hero. Both parties had misunderstood me because I actually don’t feel strongly either way. I mean, I know what I think happened, which is exactly the opposite of what I think the court should find (for complex or not really complex legal reasons). But I don’t really feel strongly about it. I stepped down from the Twitter war I created.
So it has led me to think about things that I DO feel strongly about – and it is hard to separate from things on which I have opinions, because I have opinions about pretty much everything.
A recent facebook conversation, which I only saw because a friend had commented on it – led me to see that I feel really strongly about vaccinations. I am in the pro-vaccination camp and I know that I will now get a whole lot of angry comments (mostly from Americans) and possibly lose 20 Twitter followers. Also, people will post links to dubious research on how vaccinations kill and paralyse. My feelings, in a nutshell, are that you have the luxury of choosing not to vaccinate your kids because of people like me who DO vaccinate – effectively ensuring (if you are in a first world situation, which anti-vaxxers tend to be) that your kids will not have a great likelihood of exposure to the diseases that you are allowing to continue. Rant over.
I feel strongly too, about LGBT rights. It is beyond me what business it is of anyone’s what another person does in bed. If you’re homophobic, I beg you, unfollow me because I don’t really want to hear from you and you don’t want to hear from me. But this has raised a difficult question in my own head – I am against racism, I think it is very bad and destructive – but I don’t get as riled up about it as I do about homophobia, and I am not sure why. I will cringe when someone says something racist, and possibly make a small comment and delete them from my Xmas card list. But I won’t get as worked up in my own self, and I wonder why that is? (Just for the record, and not that it is your business, I’m straight. So it’s not a personal issue – it’s a matter of principle).
Maybe it is because I live in South Africa where racism is addressed head-on, often, by everyone?
Maybe it is because I understand the psychology of how racism develops (not defending it!)?
Maybe it’s because I know that battle is being fought by people more able than me?
Maybe it is because we only have space in our hearts for a few big battles – and you know the saying – pick your battles!
So I’m not going to fight about whether Oscar did or didn’t; and I’m not going to fight about the other stuff either. Because, I’m a pacifist, and I feel quite strongly about that . . .