I consider myself an impartial observer of politics, religion, and sports. I don’t stake my belief system on any particular political party, deity, or team. I also don’t believe that my beliefs are right and other beliefs are wrong, but I do believe that my beliefs are right for me. There are certain philosophies which I categorically reject (e.g. terrorism, straight-ticket voting, designated hitters), but for the most part I am tolerant of other’s beliefs and do not think they are idiots for not seeing things my way (even though many are).
And from my lofty perch of impartiality it appears that American’s views on politics, religion, and sports are morphing into one giant pep rally. People label themselves and then adopt the trappings of their self-imposed pigeonholing. One says, “I’m a Conservative, Catholic, Red Sox fan” and you can just visualize almost all aspects of that person. How they dress. What they say. Where they live. What they eat. Whom they vote for. Which news network they watch. Etc.
Another says, “I’m a Liberal, Unitarian, soccer fan” and you can, once again, grok the gestalt of this individual.
On the one hand, I applaud people for being able to so narrowly define their views. I see good and bad most places, and can usually see the merits of both sides of an argument, and so find myself in a perpetual state of re-evaluating my personal philosophies. It’s very confusing, often tiring, but ultimately invigorating. So on the other hand, I find it difficult to understand how people can adopt a canned set of views and then go through life without constantly questioning themselves.
The World Is Grey
I’ll give you an example of a hot-button topic: capital punishment. Now, from a philosophical perspective I am both for and against capital punishment. How, you say, can you be both? Well, first of all because I reject the polarized views espoused over this issue in America. I am for capital punishment because there are times when a crime is so heinous and the proof is so incontrovertible that nothing short of execution is a fitting punishment. However, I’m also against capital punishment because the fallible nature of humans means that sometimes innocent people are executed, which is unconscionable.
I’ll use two hypothetical examples to explain. In the first, picture a man who is so angry with the boss that recently fired him that he pockets a gun and drives to his bosses house to confront him. The boss ends up shot dead, but there are no witnesses. The fired man says that they exchanged angry words and he pulled the gun, but then changed his mind and tried to leave. He then goes on to say that at that point his former boss attacked him and tried to take the gun away, and in the ensuing struggle the gun went off accidentally, killing his former boss. In this instance I wholeheartedly disagree with the death penalty, as