“Hi, um… I’d like to say, I don’t agree with you.”
The tension was palpable. Knowing glances were exchanged, looks of tacit understanding that things were just about to get interesting.
He turned, and held her gaze, his face a picture of curiously and disbelief.
“I’ll have to disagree with you on that.”
It was a sight to watch – as he became increasingly defensive. His body language reeked of arrogance; from the way he stared her down across the room, to the way he rolled his eyes as she concluded, reclining in his chair with folded arms.
The situation reminded me of George Orwell’s 1984 in a strange way – it was as though having an alternative opinion was taboo. It was an unspoken rule, a form of etiquette, even – that to voice disagreement was to launch a personal attack. It was weird, out of line, improper.
We cannot agree to disagree, because someone has to win.
Big Brother is watching you. Judging your clothes, your accent, your ideals, your decisions. We listen and rave about being ‘Born This Way’ and ‘Who You Are’, but we can’t deal with the guy who wants to wear hot-pink skinny jeans to school. It takes guts to be different – because deep inside, there’s a part of us that wants everyone to sit down, shut up and conform.
It’s not okay to be who you are –you have to be who I think you should be.
The truth is, one cannot claim to understand the why and wherefore of everything. You don’t know how I came to be the person I am, why I hold true to my ideals, why I might be, at times, a subversive, a rebel. You might think that the ‘weirdo’ at the back of the class disagrees for the sake of disagreeing. It is much neater and much more convenient, to be ‘one of us’ than ‘one of them’.
What many fail to see is the beauty we can find in chaos and diversity. We are inherently afraid and apprehensive of things that are the exception to the norm – because what man does not understand, he fears. And what he fears, he yearns to destroy.
Recently, an interesting tweet appeared on my Twitter feed – “If you’re wearing white today, I’m going to assume you’re going for Diner en Blanc and judge you.” It made me think that the crux of the entire conflict lay in the fact that two groups of people could not seem to reconcile their differences in opinion. Some had their personal scruples about the whole ‘high-class/low-class’ divide. Some didn’t care about the tauhuay, but made a lot of noise because they could.
It’s alright – it’s okay to make some noise and pick a side. But there’s a thin line between having an opinion and denying the validity of an alternate stance. You have a voice and your own ideas about the issue – but if someone wants to wear white, and eat white French food – is it so hard to let them be? It is the tyranny of the majority: your way or the highway.
It’s really hard to muster the courage do things your way.
But go ahead – disagree. Disagree with me. Have some fun. Wear your pink pants to class. Streak your hair green. And most of all, don’t be afraid to say what you like, and do what you want. Be strange, be different.
After all, you were born this way.