19 October 2010

Coming out with context

This has nothing to do with "coming out" in the "I'm here, I'm queer" sense. It's about admitting my own context and trying to be forthcoming with it. I'm one who believes ideas stand on their own: if they're valid, they're valid, and if they're not, they're not, no matter who said them or why. However, I also recognize that the tone, connotations of wording, underlying perspectives and nuances around an idea, motives for the timing in which they're presented, etc all come into play and ought to be considered rather than naively ignored as completely irrelevant.

Sometimes, I think about writing something, then I think, "No, if I say that, then this or that group will just have a heyday with it, using it to discredit something else I said or assuming to know me based on that statement and the way it fits into their own paradigm." But I've realized: they're doing that anyway and always will.

I've also thought, "Well what if I admit I'm thinking or feeling something, and that later changes, but in the meantime, it led some people to think similarly when I will later realize I was wrong?" I used to edit myself a lot due to that concern. I wanted to make sure I was reasonably certain of something, or it had been a very consistent thought for a long time, before articulating it. I still usually do that, to be honest, which is probably part of why I have so much to say now that I've been sitting on for so long. But I've also decided something else: in today's information age, people are going to find all kinds of perspectives, and those who hide too much will be sniffed out by those who have been around the block. And while you definitely don't want to unnecessarily lead people into dangerous or destructive paths, you may save someone from such a path by being the first person they've seen admit it's just not as simplistic as everyone else seems to be claiming. But more than that, I've decided that whatever I decide, my decision will be that much more informed and authentic if I've dared to admit that I haven't always thought a certain way, if my thoughts have reflected honest conflict.

It doesn't mean much to me when someone glosses over the details to assert, "I tried the gay lifestyle, and I found out it was all a fake of what I really want," because I know many who say that, and I know for a fact they only "tried the lifestyle" in the most unhealthy, sporadic way possible, or for less than a year. Same goes for, "I tried being Mormon, but underneath the veneer of happy families and conviction is a dark and twisted world of hypocrisy and elitism," because I know plenty of people who never really seemed to exercise faith and trust in gaining what I would call a "true" testimony. But when someone's voice, their ideas and reflections rather than a vague statement that they've been there, sounds like an echo from my own past, I tend to think, "This is someone who has been there..."

And sometimes, I start waxing theoretical or principle-based, and I think I lose people's interest or ability to see where I'm going with something. So be it; sometimes, that's deliberate. But sometimes I've refrained from sharing "where I am" in order to "let my ideas stand for themselves" rather than mixing them up into a "story" full of subjective bias and impossible-to-fully-convey context, paradigms, experiences, etc. Of course, bias is there whether you explain its source or not. And some people's minds are opened most effectively by touching stories of personal experience. But sometimes it seems people open their ears more when they don't know exactly what angle you're coming from, and the more vague approach can illustrate a critical analysis they might not have otherwise been willing to take. I've always known many people withhold trust or refuse to listen if they don't know someone's motives, as if their ideas, or the underlying principles, are any more or less correct or valid depending on their political or doctrinal position on an issue. I think we all do this to an extent whether or not we always recognize it.

But I've decided to try to experiment with shrugging off hesitations about opponents dismissing me or reading too much into certain perspectives based on my admissions of context or personal situation. Withholding information or context only gives them that much more supposed ammunition (usually blanks but loud enough to persuade the impressionable from daring to test whether they're blanks) with which to imply I'm hiding something, covertly undermining, or wearing some sort of mask. I don't like games of that sort. I don't care to play them. And let's be honest: sometimes, they might be right to question me from a particular angle, and I will never learn that if I'm not willing to risk being questioned or challenged.

I'm trying to be as up front as possible, to bring as much into the light as I have the emotional strength and need to do, without compromising confidentiality or implicating others. It feels right. I may learn the negative consequences of being or doing so, but hey, that's the risk of an experiment and the discomfort of growth, right?

What's that? This post doesn't make sense to you? Eh, I can't say I really expected it to. Just some mostly unfiltered thoughts I wrote as they came.


Quiet Song said...

In the end, you just have to write for yourself. It will be OK.

BLB said...

It's always refreshing to be your own devil's advocate, though there are some who would not understand when one engages in such rhetorical magic.