AN OPINION ON OPINIONS

There are moments in our lives when we are called upon to have an opinion. Jimmy Kimmel has a highly entertaining, recurring segment in which one of his staff goes down onto Hollywood Boulevard and questions strangers on various topics. In one episode, pedestrians are asked how they would feel if Homo sapiens became extinct and, to the delight of the studio audience, answer with varying degrees of ridiculousness, clearly not understanding the meaning of the classification Homo sapiens. The humor in the bit is rooted in the baseless confidence people exhibit while offering wildly incorrect answers to elementary questions. Of course, we are talking about Jimmy Kimmel and a highly edited video segment, but I still I cannot help but ponder some frightening bits of human nature displayed here. Just how far are people willing to go to prove that they are knowledgeable?
As technology and mass media bring the world together, there is so much more opportunity for individuals to be heard; everybody can have voice. People catch up with the news on Twitter and Facebook as opposed to Fox and CNN and can hear input and commentary from more avenues than ever before. Every major event and issue, political and otherwise, is thrown to the social media battlefield for consumers to analyze and digest, fighting with their opponents for the final word. It often seems that everyone has an opinion about everything.
On May 25th of this year, a tragedy caused a storm of unrest throughout the already unsteady nation. George Floyd, a 48-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis when a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for 8 minutes, despite Floyd’s cries that he could not breathe. The nation erupted and seemed to agree on the tragic nature of this event but did seem to come anywhere near a consensus as to the appropriate post facto action needed. Protestors took to the streets, marching and chanting with signs waving in the air, each with their agenda. Some protestors were peaceful and only sought equality for all, while other became violent, looting and setting fire to stores. The protestors were of all races, creeds and colors as were the looters and vandals. Many supported the protestors and condemned the looters while others justified the violence as a response to centuries of violence against African Americans. I’ve heard claims that today’s generation should not be punished for the mistakes of their predecessors and that equality for all is the sole goal, but I’ve also heard calls that there is a debt that must be paid. Today, two weeks later, the protests have just slowed down and the unrest is all but settled.
I grew up attending an all-male school in a mostly white community- race conflicts were not a regular part of my life. I was well educated and brought up to be open and accepting of all and racism and sexism were not accepted in my household. I wholly and passionately protest the actions of Derek Chauvin and all acts of police discrimination and I strongly believe that action needs to be taken to prevent further incidents; African Americans should not have to live in fear of the police. This is where my opinion ends. We’re living through history, events that our children and grandchildren will discuss in school, and I so very much want to take a strong and passionate stance, calling for specific action, believing, knowing, that I can change things for the better- but I can’t do that. I do not know what I would do if one of my brethren was baselessly killed by the police. I do not know what I would do if it happened repeatedly. Would I protest? To what extent? I don’t know what it feels like to be a police officer in today’s climate. How many cops would act as Chauvin did? Should the states cut budgets for their police departments as many are suggesting; maybe the whole way we enforce the law is flawed? For me to develop an opinion I would feel comfortable sharing with the world, with the permanence that the internet guarantees, I would need do an in depth study of African American history- beyond the basics of what we are taught in school. I would have to research discrimination laws and police regulations and develop positions on morality that I am just too young and unequipped to do. Sometimes life calls upon us to say something, but what if I just don’t have anything to say?
There are many people who are less intelligent and educated than I on the internet and I am quite certain that many are willing to confidently spew nonsense to feign actual wisdom. When an incident such as the murder of George Floyd occurs, everyone, including the overly confident ignoramuses, comes crawling out of the cracks to say their piece. Then, it’s out there and there’s no telling where it’s going to go. One day, you could be minding your own business, watching reruns of the office and eating frozen yogurt, when your frat boy friend from college sends you a verified source (@sweetbalzz1998) saying that the George Floyd murder was an act of the Illuminati. “This guy’s legit”, the text says. Perhaps, sometimes, even when society beckons, it might just be okay to remain silent.

Published by finallyliving365

I'm just a regular dude writing about his experiences with the hopes of gaining some self clarity.

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