If you were to ever spend more than a few hours with me and our conversation ventured into some “deep”, controversial, opinionated direction, I’m sure you would probably hear me use the words “objective” and “subjective” at least 4 or 5 times each. Simply, the former attempts to remove personal bias from an argument and focuses more on the facts and varying perspectives. The latter is pretty much the opposite, where the personal bias and the personal perspective are the focus of the argument. The reason you’d hear me repeat these words over and over again is because I occasionally get into these bouts where I’m more hell bent on getting folks to see an alternative perspective than I am about getting my own point across (except when it comes to music, where I’m kind of a dïck*). But more so than that, I’ve found that conscientiously considering both what is objective and subjective is helpful not just in debate (I know, I know…Captain Obvious over here), but in everyday living as well.
To explain the above riddle in terms of the title, focusing on “right and wrong” is to be subjective, whereas understanding “is and is not” is to be objective. Basically, how you feel about something is often inconsequential to the actuality of the situation. Now, this wouldn’t be a blog worth writing if I didn’t think that the majority of folks I come across tend to dwell more on the “right and wrong” of a situation than the “is and is not”, but that’s not to say they’re never objective. I just think that we’re subjective more than is necessary, and I’m willing to provide some examples for when this type of thinking might matter.
Excuse me, sir, but are you done with your plate?
No, I’m taking a break from it. I appreciate you asking, though. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the server just snatch a half eaten, inactive plate from my space without asking.
Some of these examples are trivial, but it’s easiest to keep things simple before I really go in. So, I figure I’ll start it off with the age old debate of
Leaving the toilet seat up or down.
I think it’s safe to say that men leaving the toilet seat up is one of women’s biggest pet peeves, especially if you do so in her house. Hey, your house, your rules. I get that. But what if it’s our house? Personally, in a shared space, I actually think it makes more sense to leave the toilet seat up. Why? Because it requires less energy to knock it down than to lift it up. And if you got a little boy in the house (or if the man is lazy) who gets up in the middle of the night to go, he’s liable to piss all over the seat, in which case your åss is getting wet either way.
Thing is, whether or not you agree or disagree is irrelevant. The simple fact of the matter is that there is not a woman I know who is going to listen to any of my arguments. What isn’t that serious to me, really is that serious to her. So why even argue? I could either leave it up in support of my rightness and thus spark needless drama, or I can try remembering to leave it down and not have to hear anything about it. I think I’ll just respect the is of the situation and let her have her way. Similar to that, is my stance on
To be honest, I think chivalry is stupid. No, not because I’m spiteful or bitter. But to me, I think it’s kind of demeaning to go out of one’s way to do something for another individual that could easily do it for him or herself. How’s it demeaning? Well, when the distinguishing factor of the two individuals is that one is the “stronger” male and the other is the “weaker” female, it just kind of rubs me the wrong way. Women have legs, arms, hands, and the strength to do most of the petty tasks they deem chivalrous. Common courtesy is cool. So I’ll open and hold the door for both genders and I’ll do my best to be mindful of folks who legitimately need a helping hand. But to make it a gender specific ordeal…spare me on your rationale.
Whether or not you agree or disagree is again irrelevant. The fact remains, women in America tend to respond positively to chivalry. If you’re a chivalrous man, you will get bonus points. Do I think it’s silly? Yes. But do I care, when understanding what will and will not happen as a result of my actions? No, I don’t. All I have to do is open your door and scoot your chair and you’ll think I’m a special guy? Fµck what I think is right or wrong. Here, I can carry that for you. To get a little deeper into it, though, the right and wrong versus is and is not is especially relevant when dealing with
Unwritten social laws.
I love hats. I have well over 50. We’re talking nice, dressy hats. Not ball caps. I wear these hats most places, including indoors. Though, apparently, a lot of folks think it disrespectful. But to who, I ask.
“To the administrators of the church.”
“Oh really? Where are they? I’d like to speak to them.”
“Is it that serious? Can’t you just take off your hat?.”
“You tell me if it’s that serious. It’s just a hat, and you’re fine with those two women wearing one so why is it a problem for me?”
“Okay, sir, you can follow me.”
It was a rule in that church that men not wear a hat while in the sanctuary. I would have been fine with that had the same standard been held for women. But because it was not, I saw it as sexual discrimination. Of course, it’s a rule in their church, but it’s also ordained in the Bible. I suppose I could respect that if the practice were upheld in consistent fashion. From what I’m told, the same place in the Bible that mentions this law about men and hats, also says something about women wearing veils and not wearing jewelry, which clearly wasn’t being observed in this sanctuary.
Whatever. I’m sure the church thought they were right in their stance, and there’s no sense in me arguing. I knew the moment the usher approached me in my seat that I was headed home shortly thereafter. Why? Because I knew I wasn’t taking off my hat. And unless the pastor was careful in the words he chose†, it’s not like I’d be staying.
“Well, it’s a rule of the church we ask that you respect, and if you can’t then you can leave.”
That’s fine. I did leave, because I didn’t respect the rule. Were they right? Was I wrong? Who cares? They felt strongly enough in me not wearing it. And because I strongly disagreed with their reasoning as to why, I felt it serious enough that I leave. What’s important to note here is that I was well aware of the consequences. To me, sitting in church doesn’t rate highly on my list of things to do. But the question they have to ask themselves is how necessary it is to have me present at their service.
So why should ya’ll care about any of this? Because at the end of the day, there really is no one right or wrong moral standard for anything. Sure, you can look to religion and you can even take note of the key commonalities that the majority share. But even with this common ground, history has proven time and time again that just about anything is open to our differing interpretations. You can argue all you want to, but who is to say that your right is any more righter than anyone else’s? I guess if you feel that strongly about it, then you should fight for whatever you wholeheartedly believe in.
Take abortion for instance (and this will be my last example, I recognize I’ve gone on several tangents). If you’re morally opposed to it, then I suppose you have a moral obligation to find a solution to ending the practice. But I’m willing to bet that a woman who is adamant about not going through with her pregnancy will seek an abortion regardless of whether or not it’s legal. Her right or wrong is irrelevant when she ultimately aborts. So is the solution to abolish it or prevent the unwanted pregnancy?
Don’t answer that‡.
*If you don’t believe me, just wait until Thursday’s Side Order.
†Of course, my friends who had been inviting me to the service had their words to say about the ordeal. I’m not sure if any of them were surprised by my actions, but I was very glad and proud to hear that a few actually had my back. Most came to the consensus that had the church told me I could wear the hat but emphasized their appreciation for me removing it, then I’d almost have to stay and remove it. But that’s not how they approached it.
‡I probably picked a bad example to conclude because this is not a blog about abortion. But this example is very relevant and is comparable to many of the social issues we deal with and personal confrontations that we face.