The Value of “Meh”

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My uncomfortable seat on the fence.

Sean Stoker | Opinions Editor


Obvious statement of the day: Life is full of complexity. It surprises me to no end when I see how able some people are to throw their whole being into a political ideology, because most political ideologies that I encounter are so polarized, both of the black and white answers presented are off-putting.

It’s gotten to the point where I wonder if I’m actually just a contrarian. When it comes to most secular ethical questions, I find myself reflexively disagreeing with most of the people I talk to. My opinions are so fluid; I’ve been astounded to see them change dramatically over the course of a single conversation.

Recently I was talking with two friends about a particular hot-button issue. It was a cordial discussion, despite the fact that both friends were on opposite sides of the debate. Naturally, I played the role of devil’s advocate. There was merit to both arguments and I found myself mentally switching sides according to which person was speaking. It didn’t matter what I personally thought. If you’re the one talking, I will notice if your argument is an ad hominem, a generalization or a personal attack.

But that doesn’t mean I discount your opinion. The second you close your mouth and open yourself up for rebuttal, consider me your defense attorney. I will immediately begin to empathize, and try my best to figure out how you came to the conclusion you did.

I wouldn’t advocate this as a particularly healthy way to live, though perhaps it is one befitting of an Opinion editor. It’s exhausting for sure, but there has to be some value to the moderate school of thought, right? Ultimately, I just want to be on the side of good and decency.

But declaring one side more correct than the other is difficult when you’re uncomfortable with absolutes. To be certain, I’m no moral relativist, but I see grains of truth in each person’s argument. I believe that people, their motives and their actions are incredibly complex, and complex questions deserve complex answers.

Were the government ever so inclined to make me a judge, I would do an awful job. My internal logic is so slanted toward understanding a person’s motives and looking for justifications; I would never convict a soul. Be sure to not vote for me when I inevitably don’t run.

But occasionally, we need to be a little hesitant, don’t we? Should we make up our minds instantly about exactly what it means to be good or evil, or should we take a little time to ponder and reflect upon exactly why it is we feel that way?

Here my question becomes less rhetorical and more open for discussion.

Is fence-sitting of any value? At this point, I’ve argued with myself so many times, I honestly can’t remember my own opinion.