Every so often, (lately, more often) an exasperated appeal for a truce makes its appearance in this type of Opinion Forum. Clearly, the writer’s annoyance has reached saturation level and is vividly tangible.
“How long are these tedious, repetitive religious arguments going to be thrust upon us? Why do these zealots from opposing camps keep raking over the same old ground? Why must the endless bickering be filled with invective and ridicule? Get over yourselves!”
It is a readily understandable objection to what is a doomed-to-remain-unsettled argument. While the style of debate is, far too frequently, odious and deserving of criticism, it also shows (I have to say this, please humour me) simplistic and incomplete thinking on the part of the objector.
“Oh, pick on me now, will you? Typical! Your reaction to any opposition is to attack me personally!”
Isn't it infuriating how we insist on putting words in a person’s mouth? It may be that person ‘X’ has a different response – it’s just that we've seen responses from persons ‘A’ to ‘W’ and the responses are pretty uniform. But ‘X’ may be right and we really should stop this reflex-action prejudice. Regrettably, they may perceive prejudice as an attack. But it really isn't. There is just nothing new under the sun.
Give me a moment to explain my apparently inane remark.
There is nothing new under the sun, only existing stuff being discovered, rediscovered, mined, refined, reconfigured or recycled. With ‘stuff’, I am including feelings, ideas, philosophy and other non-material issues as well as the obvious physical matter that manifests as trees, penguins, socks and gunships.
Here’s an example; I am in the process of drafting an article on how to tame your personal debt. I am 58 years old and have a fair whack of experience in managing funds, personal and corporate. Perhaps you might assess my competence if you knew that I was a sole-breadwinner in a happy family of six. I inherited nothing but my genes, was a high-school nobody, funded my own university education and paid for private schooling for all of my children. I also compiled and administrated a R130Mil annual budget for a technology corporation. I eventually earned a generous salary – but by then my kids were grown and my bond was paid for. So I retired honestly and early on a comfortable pension with a multi-million rand home, much too expensive a car and fit enough to run 16km daily.
“Yes, yes, we get it, you’re a legend in your own mind, now make your point, old geezer!”, I hear you say from all the way over here. Or maybe you said something else.
My point is that it is not misguided to imagine that my advice on coping with personal debt will be useful to somebody who takes it to heart. I have a specific method of approach. But I would bet my last cent that everything I say has been said before. Maybe just not in this way, this day, this economy. It could go to Fin24, except that it is wider than that speciality space. I submit that it is a valid topic for this forum.
Let’s briefly consider some of the other topics that are valid on a forum that is open to society who discuss the things that occupy their minds or attract their attentions:
Politics. When I was young (and dinosaurs were extinct) there was no way that thousands of people could collectively rage at and vilify the governors of the day so widely and, dare I say it, so satisfyingly. Should we give it a rest?
Sport. Just how much more should be said about a ball team?
Celebrity Gossip. No dammit, I’m just not going to go there. Oscar can take his chances.
LGBT Discrimination, BBBEEE and AA, Taxation and Licensing, Energy Pricing, Unions, Child Abuse, Crime and Punishment, Guns, Feminism, Abortion, Euthanasia, Animal Rights, Conservation, Culling, Medical Insurance, heck, Any Insurance, Military Interventions, Fishing Quotas, Cashless Societies, Legalised Drugs, Tobacco and Liquor Restrictions/Freedoms , Music, Movies and Marxism - and on and on and on.
Not one of these has a novelty above religion, if you intend to be fair. Not one of them is anything new (movies are recorded plays, in case you were going to say something). Religion, or the absence of it, has been at the core of mankind’s history, regardless of its visibility. Atheism exists from the early days of us sentient creatures. How do we refine, for our own benefit, our understanding of mindset, morals and ethics that affects how we interact with our neighbours, colleagues and customers every single day? Can anyone honestly say they learned social mores and skills with zero input from a stranger?
Grant us this little favour. A safe environment to freely declare and test how we sense this universe. I agree, so profoundly, that the insults are far too frequent and unnecessarily intense. It should be toned down – suppressed just a little more than the support of your home-team’s final match, your daughter’s wedding and your grandchild’s BSc graduation party, your interaction with taxi drivers, feelings on rape statistics and your views on El Presidente.
You knew all along how I was going to finish this, so I won't try a curve-ball; Abandon reading a post that makes you roll your eyes in exasperation. Much better still; write something that you know will be a more interesting topic.
Make it fresh and new, unheard of before your time. Then, expect us, your interactive audience, not simply to browse quickly and move on, but to feel so invested in your topic that we go to all the effort of registering as a user – simply to comment on your very novel thoughts.