Thanos (Still) Demands My Silence
I admire young people on social media.
Yes, young people are ... um, young. Sure, they post freely, without much self-censorship. They post ideas that aren't well-formed. They lack experience to understand many of the implications of the ideas they post.
They live their lives out loud.
But you know what happens as a result? They learn. People respond to their ideas and point out the flaws in their arguments. And then the original posters point out the flaws in the counterarguments. A dialogue results. The net result is the development of better ideas, and intellectual growth. (That last one is particularly of interest to me, given my chosen vocation.)
I wish I could live my life out loud. But I can't. Because I'm surrounded by people who demand my silence.
I have a whole list of things that I'm not "allowed" to talk about. I'd list them here, but ... well, I'm not allowed to talk about them. Because someone will tell me that it's "inappropriate" for someone in my "position" to speak about that issue.
And, no, that's not theoretical; I've had that conversation any number of times over the past year.
(Yeah, I'm vaguebooking. That's the whole point, if you haven't noticed.)
Of course, what's "inappropriate" completely depends upon the venue. I move in multiple circles. The rules for what I'm "allowed" to talk about change from circle to circle, and from moment to moment. What's perfectly acceptable to talk about in one circle is forbidden in another.
And so I don't get the same opportunity that my students have to "live out loud" and learn from dialogue. Socrates understood how knowledge was built from dialogue between opposing points of view. My students live that out every day. I envy them.
I had a fascinating online discussion last weekend with a colleague. We come from completely different life experiences and political points of view. In response to a remark I made online, he asked me via chat to expand on my thoughts --- not to try and persuade me out of them, but simply to understand me better. It was an amazing discussion: one in which we both learned from each other. I miss that.
I started blogging as a way to try to "live out loud" more often: to learn by writing about what I'm thinking, or writing in response to various writing prompts, or simply to write for the sake of writing. I find lately that I'm blogging less and less, because it's harder and harder for me to navigate the lines of "acceptable" points of view. Any attempt to push, even slightly, against the lines of orthodoxy is beaten down.
I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I should be cleaning, I should be packing, I should be writing, I should be doing almost anything else.
Is there anyone who's been there?
Are there any hands to raise?
Am I the only one who's traded
In the altar for a stage?
The performance is convincing
And we know every line in my heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart
But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
You imagine me to be
Or would your eyes be opened
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay?
---John Mark Hall / Nichole Nordeman, "Stained Glass Masquerade"