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| Friday, August 28, 2020

Straight. White. Catholic. Upper middle-class. And, perhaps worst of all, male.

How can a person meeting all of those qualifications possibly make some substantive contribution to the public discourse on issues of real importance today? Now is the first time that question has really become an issue for me. I finally understand the angst other Observer staffers feel when trying to come up with column ideas.

Trying to think up topics on which to express my opinion keeps leading me down the rabbit hole on issues that I’m sure would fill up my inbox with a wide array of reactions. But right now, I feel it would be at least somewhat disingenuous to waste my platform — one more credible than Facebook or Twitter. I don’t want to be part of the (probably) majority of people who disapprove of all the terrible things in the world but won’t put their name behind what they believe.

So, you may be wondering, what do I believe? Well, I think my soapbox rant all stems from the belief that we need some nuance back in the world.

Our society’s way of thinking is far too binary. Can we all (and I feel the answer to a lot of these questions is gonna be a big fat “NO”) please have a little compromise?

Can we agree that religion does a lot of good for people in this world but is often tainted once filtered through “organized” religion? Can we all agree that a lot of what religion teaches is outdated and not to be taken so literally — e.g. that evolution isn’t real and women are second-class to men?

Can we all agree that racism is still a very systemic problem in the world? Can we then also acknowledge that it is systemic and not inherent, and if we put in the effort, we can make gains to eradicate it? Just look at how South Africa escaped apartheid with far less bloodshed than expected.

Can we agree that police brutality is a problem with many individuals? Can we also agree that far more policemen conduct themselves in a becoming manner, in spite of having one of the most stressful jobs imaginable, especially considering the current environment?

Can we agree that there is a problem with who we allow to acquire firearms in America considering how many shootings we have, regardless of how you want to define “mass” shooting? Can we also agree it’s nice to live in a country where people think twice about attempting a crime because they don’t know who might be packing?

Can we agree that social media is the greatest means of connectivity the world has ever seen? And can we agree that it is simultaneously so vile a hive of evil and hate that it must have emerged from the deepest, darkest depths of Pandora’s Box?

Can we agree that we have a problem with political polarization in this country when some Republicans say they’d side with Russia, the country that has been shown to have tampered with our election, before they would associate with Democrats? 

Can we agree we have a problem with political and moral prioritization when we fail to recognize and criticize the faults of the first African American president — like placing restrictions on the press — to avoid painting his presidency as anything less than a civil rights milestone? 

Can we agree that we have the same problem when people say they’ll support a presidential candidate who advocates sexual assault and white supremacy — and a vice president who supported shock therapy to “cure” homosexuality — just so pro-life justices can wind up on the Supreme Court?

Can we acknowledge that while America is one of the greatest countries in the world and a testament to how a democratic republic founded on tenets of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can survive, it is also paradoxical for how embarrassingly is has failed to ensure those rights to people of all races, religions, colors, creeds, classes and sexual orientations?

As a straight, white, Catholic, upper middle-class male, it’s very easy for me to sit back and pose these questions. But I also think it is worthwhile to look past the surface level impression of the questioner and really perform a thorough self-examination of our society and the ideals we hold up.

As much of an optimist as I am, I’m doubtful this column will do much good. That said, I just hope that someone can read this and then be able to take the good with the bad and admit to the imperfections inherent in their own beliefs, because at least then I may have contributed some good to this messed up world.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

Contact Hayden