Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Devil's Advocate

I am such a bitch.

When I am in a political discussion, I tend to have a reaction to people making extreme statements. When someone makes a statement like "what x party is doing is morally wrong, therefore y party is morally right", I tend to start playing the other side. Therefore, even though I don't necessarily disagree with the policy we're debating, I tend to promote the opposite just out of irritation.

It's partly out of my fear of putting my own political opinions into the spotlight and having them mocked in this same way. However, it's also because I think it's rude to throw out statements like that, especially in the presence of people whose opinions you don't know. To me, when you're willing to open a statement like that, saying your party is morally superior to the other, you're either a) convinced that your audience is all of like mind (even though you don't know that) or b) you are so convinced you're right that you don't really care.

I'm happy for people who don't care what other people think--I like individualism, and I'm proud of people who stand up for their beliefs. I don't like that I don't stand up for mine more often. I guess it's just the manner in which this statement was made that raises my hackles.

This is partly why I became more liberal in college--I went to an extremely conservative school. I think that I would have had the opposite reaction to a liberal school (which would have been interesting, since I started off pretty conservative, thanks to my Republican dad). I get irritated when people aren't interested in debate, yet they're willing to throw their idea of moral superiority in my face--either I'm in, or I'm morally inferior, but they're really not listening to mine, or anyone else's opinion.

It's all a question of belief versus thought. I'm pro-choice, myself, but I don't take offense at the idea that someone would be against the choice for abortion. After all, I don't think science tells us the answer of when a human life becomes a human life, so each of us makes that determination according to personal belief. If you believe that life begins at conception, then you probably should be anti-abortion. If you believe that life begins when the heart beats, or when the brain begins to fire, or when ten fingers and ten toes appear, then you may have a different opinion. I don't think that making either choice makes a person morally inferior. I think making these decisions without good data is morally inferior, and I think forcing policy upon other people based on an emotional decision is not so wise either.

I guess it's mostly the attitude behind the statement. Tell me you are pro-life or pro-choice, and hey, that's cool. Tell me you are pro-life because people who are pro-choice are murderers, and I tend to have a little more problem with that. Tell me you are pro-choice because anyone who is pro-life is morally wrong because it's your body, godammit, and I tend to get more offended.

In my personal quest to try not to dislike people for their opinions, I work very hard to understand both sides of many equations. Therefore, if you are going to malign a group of people for a political opinion (not for a behavior like cannibalism, or murder, or for being a mean person), and it's an opinion that I think a rational person could hold (not an opinion like, the government should give us all ice cream sundaes on Fridays), then I tend to get offended for people on the other side of the equation, no matter which side I am on, personally.

All of the above adds up to: I dislike talking about politics. Especially around people I don't know well. Especially around a couple of women who make me feel slightly uncomfortable, because I am paranoid and suspect they are whispering about me when they are whispering in my presence. It reminds me of middle school, when I was even less cool than I am now (which is damn near impossible) and rather unpopular.

Why is it so much easier to hang around with guys? I rarely feel like I am in the clique with girls (and then I get nervous, and I start annoying myself). Perhaps this is yet another reason my interest in urology could pan out--guys are easier to be around than girls. This could also mean that my 6 weeks of ob/gyn will suck hardcore.


Jessica said...

Just a question: do you feel like med school has made you more liberal? I was an ultra-conservative before. Now, I am trying to figure out where exactly I stand on some issues that were clear to me before med school.

Jenn said...

i do feel more liberal, especially about healthcare. i used to be extremely conservative about healthcare, believing that it was not the government's job to provide it. Now, i'm not so sure. the government pays so much of our healthcare bill already, and it does so ineffectively, spending so much on the sickest patients or the ER, that it seems more reasonable to spend that money on preventive care.

or maybe i'm just a huge hippie now.

Jessica said...

I feel like the whole system needs a huge overhaul...It is ridiculous.

Jenn said...


Kim said...

I find it much easier to hang around guys too - I always have, since high school.

And I always feel like girls are whispering about me. We're catty, you know.

I just thought I'd let you know you're not alone - and medical school does eerily resemble middle school, doesn't it? The hardest middle school on earth, but nonethless.