I remember the first time I became aware of the need to have an opinion, to know it and to stick with it. I was in fifth grade sitting on the monkey bars after school and a friend said, “Which do you like best, Pepsi or Coke?” This seemed a monumental choice to make. Coke was easier to get at the time. Because of that when I had the chance I ordered Pepsi. I answered Pepsi and that was the opinion that would teach me that having an opinion can be terribly daunting. All day I thought, “Did I just lie to that friend?” “What if I want to change my opinion?” “Should I find her at school tomorrow and let her know it may be Coke?” As I grew up I learned that in society it is considered weak to change one’s opinion as is evidenced by our need to point out when a politician “flip flops”. I often think, “Doesn’t this mean that after getting more information an opinion was changed?” But opinion changes are frowned on in our society. It seems you’d better be sure to have an opinion, be loud about it and hold to it hard even in the face of new ideas.
I am not comfortable blogging about situations that are public. There are too many people who can be hurt unintentionally by my words. I only feel like an expert on myself and my feelings about my personal life. Yet, this morning I woke up to social media anxiety. I had friends (more than a few) with posts that said if I didn’t like police officers I should unfriend them. I had other friends (more than a few) saying that if I didn’t think justice was needed for Michael Brown than I should unfriend them.
Pepsi and Coke just got REALLY HUGE and I need an opinion or I am going to lose friends. Here is the problem. I am not a police officer and I wasn’t there. Here is the next problem. I am not black in today’s society and I was not there. But wait, there are more problems. I don’t trust news outlets as far as I can throw them. I don’t trust social media. I thought Michael Brown was shot in the back. He wasn’t. There are memes for every opinion on this issue, but they only give partial information. I hold up in prayer Michael Brown’s family, but can’t ignore that his stepfather is part of that family. I was NOT in that car. I have never been trained as a police officer. Interestingly, I have a friend who is both black and a police officer. Also interestingly, that still does not give me any more insight into what happened in Ferguson.
I waver all over the place in how I feel. I am angry one minute at every aspect of this situation and the next I am crying about how pathetic we seem as a society. Some of my thoughts focus on cause and effect and some of my thoughts focus on forward conversations to change things. I do not have a solid opinion about any of it other than it is terrible for all involved. When I say involved I mean the families of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. The rest of us just sit on the periphery.
I will not be “unfriending” anyone today. The one opinion I have today is that my friends all come from a place of trying to understand and trying to make the world better. That’s why we are friends.
“Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.” ~ Laurens van der Post