And frankly I can’t come up with a satisfying answer.
The footy fan phenomenon
I start with sport.
There are those of us who LOVE sport and there are those of us who couldn't give a toss about sport. While that is a huge gulf of difference of opinion there is not much contention about the issue. Those of us who find sport boring simply shrug and think “I don’t know what you see in it.” And vice versa.
Again a difference of opinion and I’m sure there have been discussions about it but it’s not as if footy fans stand outside Wimbledon ready to start a riot and punch on about which sport is better.
Take it one step closer and you have Football fans who prefer Rugby, League, AFL, American football, Soccer…and you bet there have been plenty of pub brawls about which is the best code.
Then you go one step deeper again…to the fans who love the same code of Football…getting very close to the same opinion here…AND these are the ones most likely to commit violent acts over who is right.
Sure people disagree about things when they have very big differences of opinion but as you get into the minutiae of opinions, and the details of definitions there seems to be more contention, more frequent and more passionate arguments.
I’m thinking in particular at the moment about some on line homeschooling communities.
Instead of these communities being united by a common belief in home education there seems to be much in-fighting, disagreement about definitions, judgmental commentary about which type of homeschooling is better and down right bitchy, nastiness.
There are Homeschooling groups, Unschooling groups, Radical Unschooling groups all knocking each other.
There are sub groups within the Radical Unschooling groups who support one theory or another, one definition or adhere to one particular guru or another. And the shit that goes on in some of these groups would blow your mind! Or perhaps not...as this phenomenon seems to be widespread.
It seems to be everywhere.
The closer two religions are the greater the Wars.
It is usually the Vegans criticizing the vegetarians, the far right wing political party criticizing the not-so-far-right political party... saying they are not doing it right, they are not committed enough.
Wikki says “…the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions”
Is this why as the definitions get stricter, when the differences get smaller the Fanatic must become ever more vigilant at keeping their boundaries of belief protected?
In essence I don’t think there is anything wrong with using labels to define groups of people…it makes life simpler.
It’s a lot simpler to say “I’m a vegetarian.” than it is to say’ “I don’t eat pork, or chicken, or bacon, or beef, or turkey, or ham, or veal etc…”
Labels can be divisive, labels can be limiting but they can also help us finding common ground with others.
Labels help us identify groups of people we want to interact with.
They help us find friends with things in common, experts to learn from.
But instead of using labels as a guide maybe we get too attached to them; instead of using them to identify they become our identity???
I am an individual.
Each and every decision is checked by how I feel not what the guidelines of the group are.
I often change my mind as I learn and grow and hope I keep changing my mind until the day I die.
I do not have a problem with differences of opinion. I have a problem with my freedom of thought being taken away.
And it is not just angry people on forums who make us feel unable to express our opinions and live how we choose. But our governments trying to regulate our behaviour to concur with the common denominator. I should be free to vaccinate or not, to home educate or not, to homebirth or not...but the government seems set on taking our right to make informed choice away.
They are saying the same thing as the fanatics on the forums...unless you agree with us you are out! If you don' agree with the general opinion then we will force you to behave as if you do anyway.
And it is this Freedom of thought I like to afford others.Believe what you will.
And if you like we can have a nice intelligent debate about it or not...
But know that while I may not agree I am not going to call you names, or hurt you, or as government legislation has been seen to do, forcibly take away your rights so you have to change your mind.
Anyhow, as an example of how two people with differing opinions can keep it real and not get nasty, I loved this debate between an Atheist and a Christian.