I find the people that I know fascinating, particularly when I disagree with or simply do not understand their likes, dislikes, views and reactions. In that sense, I guess, I shouldn’t say that I actually know them at all. I can observe, discuss and learn more about them, but there is so much that I cannot comprehend. I enjoy these differences; the world would be such a boring place if we were all the same.
Often it is the most trivial of things that will baffle me. I have lovely friends, kind and generous people, who look forward to watching and discussing television programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, X Factor or some cookery programme. I remain perplexed as to why anyone would wish to spend their time watching these things. I guess they must find enjoyment in them and in sharing the experience with like minded family and friends. Time spent enjoying oneself is never wasted time. Then there are the many who gain pleasure from going shopping; they don’t even need to buy anything to find it a pleasurable experience. I find shopping stressful so avoid it when I can. I never seem to be able to find what I want without search, click and compare functions at my fingertips. It truly amazes me that people pay to go on day trips to shopping centres. I do realise, of course, that there are plenty who would not choose to spend a day walking in a big circle to nowhere in particular, through inclement weather, as I regularly choose to do.
Other friends and acquaintances have strong views on issues that I would disagree with. I love to observe how they argue for a cause and then live their lives in a way that challenges their argument. Too often I catch myself doing the same sort of thing. I regularly mock my views when I realise the hypocrisy that I display in espousing one opinion and living another. I will continue to try to do better but cannot be held up as any sort of good example.
Whether or not I agree with how another person lives their life I do not feel qualified to ask someone to change. I do not wish to be told what to do and I would not try to tell someone else how they should behave. If it causes no harm then let people be what they want. When harm is caused then that can be debated and discussed, but none of us live a life that leaves no footprint. I do not believe that we should condemn others for thinking differently to us.
I would like to retain the right to think that someone else is wrong; to be able to say so without offending but rather to express a view. Likewise I would wish others to be able to tell me if they think that I am wrong. I wish to neither try to force a change nor put down another’s point of view. Healthy debate, where no one need feel offended by differences of opinion, can help us to understand why different views are held.
If consenting adults are capable of understanding what they are doing and choose to behave in a certain way, particularly in the privacy of their own homes, then I do not see why anyone else should get involved. With most people we have the choice as to whether or not we spend time with them. If we are not forced to join in then I see no need to challenge the behaviour. Each person has their own moral compass; beliefs that are important to them. So long as these views are not forced on others then live and let live.
I find state intervention in how we live our lives so irritating because it invades my privacy and tries to force me to think and behave in a certain way. There is a place for state intervention, such as to protect the vulnerable, but it is my view that this argument has been greatly misused. The same arguments used to demonise smokers, drinkers and the obese could be used to demonise those who partake in dangerous sports or those who make themselves ill or demand surgery in order to change their outward appearance. There are complex issues of medical costs and mental well being but the arguments can be equally applied in so many areas. The piecemeal application of legislation does not stand up to scrutiny. I would like to see the state back off from telling me what to think and what I may or may not say. No section of society should have to suffer discrimination or abuse but often it is the government that is encouraging the demonisation in order to force changes of perception and behaviour for political gain. Too often it is he who shouts the loudest who gets heard while the truly needy remain sidelined.
As a child I was told that one should never discuss religion or politics at a dinner party. I can see the logic in this as both subjects have the potential to cause offence due to strongly held views. As a lover of debate though I do sometimes wish that I could throw what I think into the crowd and listen to why others think as they do. In reality I suspect that my mother was right and topics are generally best avoided. I do not wish to generate a schism between friends for the sake of a frank exchange of views in areas where right and wrong are a matter of opinion and can rarely be firmly defined.
Illustration of a complex number showing the multivalued nature of arguments.