He was the type of person who says Homer is his favorite author although he has no idea what that means. A good looking man, at least in photographs, he was able to spout popular opinion so eloquently that we all thought he was a perfectly lovely man if not a little bland. When he introduced himself, he did it with all the right moves, so you thought he really wanted to get to know you, be on your level, respect you, and talk about important things—things, which few people are willing to speak about.
Then you would ask him about his opinions, a detailed question out of curiosity, and he couldn’t back them up. “Everybody just knows it’s a fact.” Talking about deep issues, his eyes would eventually glaze over, and he would dismiss himself quickly with a pale face and little to no idea of what was just said.
Lots of people buy into popular option—believing what they hear on the news and read in a magazine. I’m learning that people are spouting out the same statistics, the same quotes, and even the same opinions—all just hand me downs heard from one person and said to another until they become the stuff of legend. This is nothing new of course but I feel like people have begun to just glaze over, to not pay attention to new ideas. They would rather stay just as they are than have their opinions refined. I find walking around London, hearing the same quotes over and over, repeated almost like automatons scarier than any zombie that might visit my door on Halloween.
Often people will refuse to engage in conversation, simply repeating these lines and catch phrases even when they have no relation to the subject being spoken about. This particular individual was extremely good at dropping into a conversation without the pretext of the last five minutes. Working with him was like working with one of those dolls with the string in its back that you would pull and it would say random things. His eyes looked alive, but often what he said bared no relation to what was being discussed, and everyone would stop, look at him for a minute and then go on realizing that no conversation piece from him was helpful as of yet.
Time and Newsweek simply are not enough to form an opinion. They’re the crux of pop media that one has to read in order to be called “well-educated.” If you follow books suggested by certain individuals, memorize statistics on any cable news station, you are entitled to call yourself well-educated and well-informed. But the very concept of being well-educated suggests that not everyone is. How can this title be yours if you are just reading the same things that everyone else reads?
Getting into political discussions today is about as creepy as watching the Stepford Wives at a grocery store. You come up with an obstacle and they simply don’t know what to do. If you say that one of Maya Angelou’s books wasn’t good, no one asks you to defend it; they’ll just shut you down. Going through life not thinking and with the brain shut off is becoming a more and more common occurrence, almost to the point where you expect popular opinions to band together and start doing the Thriller dance down the street as you run into your house to take cover.
Don’t shut off your mind—the very organ that makes life worth living. People need to learn that it’s okay not to have an opinion. If you don’t have time or the interest to go further than headline news, that’s okay, perhaps your resources are better used elsewhere. So many walk about the planet unconnected and yet can quote every statistic on last nights news, seeking anything that will numb their minds and put their conscience at ease, even if it means refusing to dig deeper into an issue and really find out the truth. The most moving sight in the world is the sight of man fully alive, questioning boldly, and holding fast to the truth.