Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Why So Dogmatic?" I'll Tell You Why!

Most people study at least one foreign language during their school years, usually in middle/junior high school or later.  Still others grow up in a bilingual household or world, where two languages are spoken and understood by all residents of the home or by pretty much everyone one comes in contact with.  Whatever your experience with various languages, it's obvious to pretty much anyone that learning one language is hard when you're used to the rules and sounds of another.  I took Spanish from seventh grade through tenth grade, and my classmates and I thought it was going to be easy; just one semester proved us wrong.  Though I do remember some of what I learned during those four years, it's mostly vocabulary, as I never did get the conjugations down fully.  I'm sure others of you who have taken any such classes--whether Spanish, French, Latin, or even ASL--probably know exactly what I mean; a coeval friend once told me that the only thing he remembered from high school Spanish class was how to ask permission to use the restroom.

It's also true with the different "languages" computers use.  Most of you who are involved in the tech field know that, since Macs have run on Intel processors for several years now, it makes it easy and natural for a computer with an apple printed on the front to run the "other" operating system.  What you might not know is that Windows/PC emulators have been available since the 90's; they just tended to run sluggishly at first, as the processor was trying to speak a "language" that wasn't its native one.  The Mac OS I currently have--10.6, aka Snow Leopard--is the last one that can run pre-Intel OS X programs, which actually comes in very handy.  I have a version of Print Shop that my mom bought for a previous Mac all the way back in 2004, and I am glad that it runs on the Mac I have now, because I do not want to shell out a whole bunch of money to get a new version of software that I already have.  The only problem? Though it runs moderately well, it is a bit slow, which is because the Intel processor is speaking a non-Intel "language" whenever I use that program.

Why do I bring that up? Here's why: Anyone who knows me knows that "cool" and "hip" are not languages that I speak or have ever spoken.  Though I've had coeval friends pretty much my entire life, I was never in the "in crowd," as my tastes in...well, pretty much everything were not the same as my classmates or other peers.  I'm pretty sure the last personal fad I went through that was considered cool by people my own age was Pokémon, and that was over a decade ago.  Sure, I made attempts to be "cool" and "hip," but they were simply futile; there was no way I could actually "fit in," not that I would truly have wanted to in the first place.  When it came to my tastes, and in other areas as well, I was pretty much speaking a "language" all my own.

As most of you either would expect or already know, I was met with criticism for all that.  Why couldn't I get my driver's license? Why did I like the things that my peers considered "childish"? What was stopping me from doing what "everyone else" was doing? True, the lion's share of that was from teenagers--and, therefore, a largely immature source--but right much of it was from adults of various ages, most if not all of whom should have known better.  Regardless of who said what, it ended up giving me thicker skin and made me all the more hesitant to do what anyone said.

In my last post, I shared this quotation from a former friend: "You are very rigid about your opinions, and it seems that if one does not agree with you, they are persecuting you, or just wrong.  Being so dogmatic can lead people to just agree without sharing their own ideas and opinions, because they don’t want to argue anymore." Ever since I first read those words about 1.5 years ago, I have been pondering what she meant, and trying to figure out whether or not she had a worthwhile point.  Now, I have come to a conclusion: Though I'm sure her intentions were good, the point she was trying to make is nothing short of invalid.  In my case, I have to be "dogmatic," because, as the old saying says: "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."  I'll tell you right now that I do not want to be guilted or manipulated into taking part in activities--watching/playing sports, consuming morally objectionable entertainment, attending theme parks, anything involving large bodies of water, etc.--that are completely contrary to my tastes.  You can do that if you want; I'm not going to stop you.  I just want no part of it, because I know that I'm not going to enjoy it, despite others' claims to the contrary.  If I weren't as "dogmatic" as my former friend claimed I was/am, I'd have given up many of the things that I have become known for, such as Disney Channel/Nickelodeon, bargain hunting, being crafty, and the like, and would have succumbed to the audacious pleas from others who tried to get me to attend the beach or play football with them, even after I made it perfectly clear to them I wasn't the least bit interested.

A few months ago, I did a blog post where I said that, if you tell me that I'm not going to do something--or that I shouldn't do something--and your argument lacks sufficient backup, all you have done is made me even more determined to do whatever.  That comes as a result of years of people telling me, "You should ______!", and/or "You shouldn't _____!", without any reasons other than, "It's what everybody else is doing!", "It isn't appropriate for someone your age to do that!", or some other meaningless little platitude that has never and will never work on me.  I've realized that people are going to find fault no matter what I do.

Besides which, I'm pretty sure most of my true friends don't care about all that one way or the other.  Though they may not be fans of the same entities I am or have the same hobbies I do, they're still happy for me, because they know what I do makes me happy.  Back in 2007, I mentioned to a rather negative acquaintance that I had read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows during commercial breaks of ABC's airing of The Princess Diaries, to which he/she replied, "What would your guy friends think if they knew you were watching The Princess Diaries?" I'll tell you what they would think: They wouldn't care, and they definitely wouldn't make fun of me for it; if they did, they would be immature, and they wouldn't be my friends.  To be honest, I tried the same tactic on my mom once; around 1996, a show came on Disney Channel called Salute to the American Teacher, and, when my mom refused to watch it, I told her that it meant that she "didn't support the American teacher," to which she replied, "Yes, I do, [Siobhan]; I work for the school system!" (At the time, she was working as a school nurse.) Later on, either the same or a similar program came on the Mouse network, and I told her that I was going to tell the school's principal--aka her boss--that she didn't want to watch it.  My mom's reply? "She wouldn't care, [Siobhan]." Looking back, I think she was right; if I'd notified the principal, I probably would have gotten myself in trouble for wasting her time with such a paltry matter.  My guy friends would likely think less of the aforementioned individual for being a tattletale instead of thinking less of me for watching that movie; in fact, it was a former drill sergeant--no joke!--who recommended Ella Enchanted to me, and that's what led to me becoming an Anne Hathaway fan, and, therefore, watching that Princess movie.

In conclusion, I will say this: At a friend's Eagle Scout Court of Honor, I heard one of the adult leaders tell this story:

A man and his son were once going with their donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said, "You fool, what's a donkey for but to ride upon?"

So, the man put the boy on the donkey and they went on their way...but soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, "See that lazy youngster? He lets his father walk while he rides!"

So, the man ordered his son to get off and got on the donkey himself...but they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, "Shame on that lazy lout for letting his poor little son trudge along!"

The man did not know what to do, but he eventually took his son up before him on the donkey.  By this time they had come to the town and the people passing by began to jeer and point at them.  The man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at, and they replied: "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours; you and your hulking son?"

The man and his son got off and tried to decide what to do.  After much thinking, and then decided to cut down a pole, tie the donkey's feet to it, and raise the pole and the donkey to their shoulders.  They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge when the donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the boy to drop his end of the pole.  In the struggle, the donkey fell over the bridge, and, since his front feet were tied together, he drowned.

"That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them, "that you cannot please everyone."

As I and countless others have said, people are going to find fault no matter what I do.  I know that some people aren't pleased with what I decide to do, but that is their problem.  I realized years ago that I have to do what God wants, regardless of what whoever else or whatever else might tell me to do.  Now, I'm off; I've got books to read and TV shows to watch.

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