Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Different opinions, or why I'd rather sometimes hear the other side.

I've been asked again - no, rather, almost reprimanded, this time - why on earth I have a link to Orson Scott Card's website here. I repressed the urge to say "I'm a grown up and I can do what I like on my blog!!" and reminded my interlocutor that OSC is one of my favourite SF authors and I regard "Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead" as two of the greatest science fiction novels ever written - up there with "The Player of Games", "Body of Glass", "The Man in the High Castle", "The Dispossessed" and "The Left Hand of Darkness"...

But I also like to hear an intelligent arguament that is counter to the normal views of my regular good-lefty tribe. It's good for the brain to engage with different viewpoints, for goodness' sakes! It's also frequently illuminating or startling, sometimes humbling; always interesting. It's a valuable exercise which in my book any self-respecting intelligent adult needs. All question of emotion aside, this is one of the more rational reasons why I miss my father; we didn't agree - about a lot of things - but I could have a real discussion with him rather than being either shouted at or stifled under someone's disapproval. We do tend, once out of the battleground of childhood, to gather with relief into little clumps of like-minded individuals, but it can be self-defeating never to hear anything but ideas you agree with.

And I say this, incidentally, as someone who absolutely loathes conflict. I had enough of it in the first seven years of my life to last me the rest of my life.

So anyway, I was still feeling a little grumbly inside when I happened to find this article, on OSC's website, in which he articulates what I am now trying to say, far better than I ever could. I still don't know how to post a link, so this is something you'll have to cut and paste into the address bar in order to read it:

I'd recommend scrolling about halfway down and starting at the point where he reviews a novel by John Mortimer, unless you are quite certain you can control your knee-jerk good-lefty reflexes. But please, do read this article, or at least the last third of it. And then stop preaching at me about how I'm betraying my values, my family, my friends, my country and my intellect by trying to be marginally less tribal than you, and remembering that every side of the issue is worth hearing, provided they aren't trying to force their views on me.

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