I’m going to say something intentionally controversial because I want you to witness your feelings about me. I think our confirmation bias is pushing us to extremes. Personal opinions have become sacred texts. Hate has become an instant reflex. There is only one right point of view, and it’s my point of view. That self-righteousness makes it easy to manipulate me by pushing my hot buttons. If only I could be as good at being completely wrong as I am at being right. They say failure is the path to success. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to admit I’m wrong. But if news cycles are any indication, it doesn’t feel okay to be wrong. It feels like being wrong even just once could cancel me. For example, in my opinion it should be legal for a person to sell their body performance for money, whether they are a sex worker or a massage therapist or an athlete. I think criminalizing sex work is arbitrary discrimination and imposes standards of purity particularly on women which I find offensive. Do you hate me? Am I cancelled yet?
If you think I’m wrong, that’s ok. I respect your opinion. Kids need to touch a hot stove to learn the danger of heat. Adults need to lie, cheat and steal to appreciate the price of those mistakes. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes, especially the really big ones. Recovering from my own stupidity makes me smarter. Seeing my good intentions backfire and experiencing their unintended consequences has made me a better person. The diversity of my experience strengthens me. The diversity of my friends enlightens me. I don’t want my friends to be my clones. Our disagreements inform me, shape my opinions and perhaps even sharpen my opposition. And every once in a while, I change my mind. I discover new context, feel new feelings, open up to alternative points of view. I evolve. How can we evolve without diversity?
In my personal life I enjoy people who do not share my views on politics, religion, race, vaccines, climate change, guns, gender equity, recycling, law enforcement, renewable energy and sex work. Of course, these are the issues of our time, and most of us have hardened opinions on each topic. What I think we’ve lost is the skill to carry on civil discourse. We seem to want to erase diversity of opinion. But things change, right? An idiot is born every minute, and anyone of us could be next. While we’re fighting about freedom, I’d like to ask for the freedom to change my mind. My brain is not made of stone. I evolve. Let me make a mistake and recover from it without ruining my life. Please don’t attack me with such vehemence that I have to hold on to my bad ideas to just save face.
If our racist, sexist, patriarchal, colonizing founders had a moment of cosmic genius, it is their prime directive that we must manage our diversity without eliminating our differences. Diversity is fundamental. Nature (our biology), democracy (our government), the internet and the economy (supply chains, banks, Main Street) all depend upon diversity to stay in balance. Go ahead, disagree with me. I cherish your right to say I’m completely wrong as much as I hope you cherish my right to shoot myself in the foot, fall on my sword, flip-flop and be gored by my own ox. I love the complexity of our relationship, even when one of us is obviously completely wrong. And we both know who that is, right?
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