Buckle up. This is going to be a very blunt post.
And for the record, yes, I intentionally made the title of this post to be both fitting and misleading. I’m curious to see who automatically assumes I’ve started demanding that people agree with me. Just curious.
Recently, I was randomly reminded of something that happened around 8 years ago, involving someone I knew back in high school. This guy had his own radio show, which was impressive, but in hindsight, I wonder if that was ever actually true. Why? Because of what two of my friends told me about working with him.
He promised them things such as a wage (you know, the most basic part of hiring someone) and other things, but didn’t deliver on a single one of them. One of those friends, who happened to be a very nice guy who couldn’t hurt a fly, openly called him a scumbag. I chose to believe my friends’ stories, especially since the two were not friends with each other and worked for this guy at separate times and places. So, when everyone who attended our high school discussed the stories on Facebook, I voiced my opinion of the guy, and also called him a scumbag.
He threatened to sue me for voicing such an opinion, which I laughed at. One day, I was walking and he passed me in his car, yelling something I couldn’t hear because I was listening to music. Then, while I was passing through a parking lot, he pulled up near me and started to yell something else, which I also couldn’t hear, nor cared to. The next time I logged on to my Facebook, I got a message from him with just two words: “Idiot nigger.” I then posted his message to my profile, which many of my fellow high schoolers commented on, all reiterating the fact we all thought this guy was a scumbag. What’s even funnier about the message is the fact I’m more white than black, so calling me that particular racial slur didn’t even make sense.
This article isn’t about this guy. It’s actually going to be about something I noticed about people in general from this story.
This incident reminded me of something people have said over and over throughout my teen-adult life that they don’t like about me…
Notice in this story how nothing that guy did affected me in any way? Well, that’s exactly what people keep saying they take issue with me about. The argument is one of two things, or both: 1), I lack emotions; and/or 2), things don’t affect me because I’m arrogant. The implication is that I’m a bad person because of these things.
I’ve heard former friends make these claims, and I’ve heard relatives make these claims as well. In fact, I think I’ll talk about a couple relatives as my primary example. My siblings started calling me arrogant back in 2003 (a memory I will share in my upcoming autobiography, Atheist Miracles). Despite my many attempts to tell them (and people in general) that I’m not arrogant, it never registers in their brain. And the fact that people never listen to me when I say this is a kind of paradox, and I’ll explain how.
Notice in my earlier story that nobody disagreed with me when I called that guy a scumbag. Therefore, nobody took issue with the fact I called him a scumbag, nor did anyone take issue with me not being impacted when he called me ‘idiot nigger.’ Not one person called me arrogant during that situation, not one person unfriended me on Facebook. My social life had no repercussions of any kind. Why? Because everyone agreed with my point of view.
Now, when have people called me arrogant and/or emotionless? When they disagree with me.
It’s when I say things like, “God doesn’t exist and religion is stupid,” that people get on the name-calling train, and/or disown me. It’s when I explain why I don’t like a movie that is universally loved (like The Lion King). OR, best of all, it’s when I criticize the political left, like Black Lives Matter, vegans, feminists, etc., even though I’m technically part of the left.
So, to summarize: When I say/believe/do things people like, I’m a good, reasonable guy. When I say/believe/do things that people don’t like, it’s because I’m arrogant. This is why it’s contradictory, inconsistent, and outright hypocritical when I tell people that I’m not arrogant and they don’t listen to me. The reason they call me arrogant in the first place is the same reason they won’t believe me when I say I’m not. It’s because they are the closed-minded ones living in their own bubble, because living in the bubble makes them feel good about themselves.
What could possibly be more arrogant than never taking the time to investigate whether or not you are wrong, about anything? ESPECIALLY when someone voices their opinion which happens to be different from yours.
My best friend, Mitch, is a devout Christian, while I am a militant atheist. I like the fact he and I have polar opposite views on the big questions of life. Battling viewpoints will always shoot down the worst points and elevate the best points. Every single time my best friend and I get into a debate about the subject of God and the universe, I actually hope that I will see that I’m wrong, if I am wrong, and that I won’t change my mind to something wrong if I was originally correct.
For the past few years, though, I’ve lost interest in speaking against religion. Mitch brings up the subject now, and every time he does, I repeatedly ask him to end it. I’ve just lost interest.
The reason I’m unaffected by a lot of things is because I try my best to be a servant of the truth, and I try to make my principles my highest priority. I wasn’t affected when that guy called me ‘idiot nigger’ because the truth is he only said it to make me feel bad, and anything people say solely for that reason should always be ignored, regardless if it’s true or not. You wanna hurt me with your words? Then say something that is both true AND something I am ashamed of. Good luck with that, because I always do my best to minimize the number of things about myself to be ashamed of. I am always trying to improve, all day, every day.
I save my emotions for things that matter. I get emotional when I see people in physical pain. I get emotional when I see bad things happen to good people. I get emotional when I see loved ones suffer. I do not get emotional when someone just desperately wants me to agree with them.
When my brother chose not to take care of his son from day one, and instead chose to dump the responsibility on his baby mama, who then dumped the responsibility on her parents, I was not thrilled. My brother chose to be deeply offended by my lack of support, and chose to misinterpret my feelings as simply not caring about his son. Utterly retarded, if you ask me.
When my sister got pregnant with her second child through some asshole who had no interest in being a father, I was not thrilled. When she went back to that guy and got pregnant by him again with her third child, she got offended that I once again did not give my blessing. Like my brother, she chose to interpret my feelings as not caring about her kids. She and my brother told me she was pregnant (the third time), and made a bet on whether I would be supportive. I thought, Who the hell, in their right mind, would be thrilled about this? How did you possibly not learn from the last time? Just…. such stupidity.
My siblings were a nightmare to deal with throughout the years for this general reason. All emotion, no rationality. Always reacting first, then analyzing later (if ever). And because I have always been someone who tries to think first and react later, who shuts down before they flare up, they chose to think I’m just heartless and arrogant, instead of just learning who I am. My brother has such a short fuse that I’m tempted to think his default emotion is anger. I’ve actually seen him go to sleep just fine and wake up in the middle of the night enraged… And somehow, I was the worse one, in our sister’s eyes?
Growing up, and even sometimes as an adult, my brother had this obnoxious routine… He’d come up to me and ask me what my opinion is about something. If I answered in a way he liked, he would then proceed to the next question. And so and so on, until he finally got an answer he didn’t agree with. Then, he’d start an argument about it, even if I repeatedly said I don’t care about the subject matter. He added one of my female friends on Facebook once, and when I asked him why, he admitted it was just to piss me off…. I seriously wish I was making this stupid shit up.
But when it comes to desperately wanting someone to agree, or just having an innate desire for conflict in general, I don’t think this behavior is exclusive to my siblings. I think this behavior is prevalent in all people who choose to be ruled by their emotions, and allow themselves to be weak and stupid. And yes, I do believe it’s a choice. As a small child, I used to believe photographs were portals to the place and time the photo was taken, but when a classmate told me that’s stupid, I thought about it and realized they were right. I didn’t default to thinking they’re arrogant, or a bad person, or even annoying.
Of course, sometimes people actually do or say things out of arrogance, or stupidity, or etc. To discern the differences, to gain any knowledge whatsoever, we must, in all things, judge with reason and logic, not raw emotion.
This includes, by the way, when people agree with you (or me). Even when the crowd is on your side, you can still be wrong. A healthy mind understands that. Technically (with great emphasis on the word ‘technically’), I could have been wrong when I called that guy a scumbag all those years ago. I wasn’t actually present when he did the things people accused him of doing, so technically, I could have believed wrong.
So, to conclude: Just because I have opinions you don’t like, that doesn’t mean I’m arrogant, nor does it mean I haven’t ever given thought to the opinion I’m expressing. It also doesn’t mean that opinion is there to stay no matter what. And just for the hell of it, I want to add that I never express opinions just to get someone upset. Ever. I’m more interested in facts than in how someone feels. Even now, this article’s purpose was not to stir anger, but to bluntly tell people to stop being self-absorbed wimps. If you can’t handle someone with different opinions, you need to look inward.
I voice my opinions because I genuinely want the world to be a better place. Sometimes, voicing my opinion is all I can do to make that happen, whether I’m against something or in support. Also, voicing my opinions allows others to chime in and make me realize I’m wrong, if I’m wrong. But what I’d love for people to realize is that just because you want me to be wrong, doesn’t automatically mean I am.
I have no reason to care if your feelings get hurt, or if you get annoyed, because I believe something you don’t, or vice-versa. That’s not arrogant, that’s reasonable. Being vocal about what I believe or don’t believe is never arrogant, or even immoral. Actions should be everyone’s concern, not opinions. React to what someone does, not what they say. If your grandpa, for example, has the most racist, horrendous opinions… If literally all he does is sit around and play Bingo, then even those opinions don’t matter at all. Maybe your grandpa is just bitter that his childhood crush never liked him back, and he’d never truly be motivated to act on his opinions, and that’s all it is…. Suddenly the guy isn’t so bad, is he?
Maybe for some, thinking is just too hard.