I’m an extremely opinionated person. This probably contributes to the fact that I’m not an extremely “warm” person. I’ve been trying to remedy both of these problems slowly for the past couple of years. It’s great to have opinions, but a person who has a strong opinion about EVERYTHING is no fucking fun to be around. I’ve met those people. I don’t want to be one of them. I’ve also come to realize that I have the ability to make either a really great or really terrible first impression, probably based on the fact that I feign confidence to cover up my extreme lack thereof. People either love me or hate me, but either way, that decision is made early on. It’s hard to judge when you’re looking from the inside out, but these are realities in my life.
The things that I have an opinion on aren’t necessarily that important — well, they are to ME, but probably not to most of the rest of the world. Of course, I form strong opinions about things like religion (I could go on for days), certain political matters and vegetarianism. But I also have strong opinions about varied small issues: where one should park one’s car in a crowded parking lot, how credit card bills should be paid, all matters involving family and how family members ought to treat one another, card games and whether or not neglecting to teach your children the basics — which suit is clubs? — constitutes child abuse (it totally does), how often a human being should crack open a book to retain any sort of brain power and, of course, the right way to chop an onion.
I’m learning to let go of some of these smaller issues, mostly so that people can stand to be around me. In my head, when I see somebody cutting an onion the wrong way (in this case wrong = not what Lindsey would do), I’ll probably still be ranting though.
However, on larger issues, I think it’s important (if not necessary today) to form strong opinions. If I were to ask you whether or not you believe in God, I would hope that your answer wouldn’t be, “You know, I’ve never actually stopped to think about it.” You would have an answer, and it would probably be one that you’re relatively passionate about. My religious beliefs, for instance, arose from years of Sunday school, dozens of bible verses memorized, a lot of article reading and documentary watching and one big gut feeling that I knew the answer — I knew my answer, that is.
There’s a lot of responsibility in having an opinion. We probably all know somebody who claims to be a republican without having the slightest idea what that word means or claims to be anti-vegetarianism without having given the notion a moment’s thought. I never want to be somebody who claims to feel or think one way without having the backup required. After all, you never know when that question will come and you won’t be ready for it: “Oh, you believe in God? WHY?” “So you don’t think two men should be allowed to marry? WHY?”
My goal is to be ready for that “WHY?” question when it comes to vegetarianism. In this case, people are so fascinated, confused or indignant about the idea of vegetarianism that the “WHY?”s keep coming and coming. I feel the need to stock my ammunition. Should I memorize a standardized reply? My mom and I joked about writing up a business card with all of the reasons to be a vegetarian printed on it and handing it out whenever the questions begin.
I’m bringing all of this up because I’ve super slacked when it comes to vegetarian research. When this project first started in January, all I ever read were books about vegetarianism. I watched documentaries, I read articles, I read blogs…I did the best I could to stay informed. I guess I overdid it, because for the past few months, I’ve barely read a word. That explains my absence from blogging — I’ve got nothing new to say.
I know that because I’m putting this information out to the world in however small a way, it’s my responsibility to stay at least a little bit informed. My question is this: If you have a strong opinion about something like vegetarianism or religion or politics, how much research responsibility rests on your shoulders? To my fellow vegetarians, how much time do you spend reading about this topic? To everybody else, what do you expect from somebody who says he’s a vegetarian? Hard-core research or a few quick facts?
I’ve chosen not to let my vegetarianism define me. I don’t throw my diet out there to be judged. I rarely mention the fact that I don’t eat meat to anybody unless it’s completely necessary. This is all, of course, in an attempt to make myself more subdued. I’ve fought the temptation to state my beliefs about these issues a handful of times in recent months. I don’t know if that makes me more or less likable…though I’m pretty sure it makes me quite a bit less genuine.
For me, those few months of heavy research were enough for me to make a decision and stick to it. I made up my mind and then got kind of sick of reading about all of the things I already knew to be true in more detail. My parents, especially my mom, have continued reading and reading and reading.
This has all been weighing on my mind because I’ve felt like such a slacker lately. I just received a copy of Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (thanks, Mom!), so I’m hoping to jump right back into my research any day now. Just as soon as the laundry is done, the apartment is clean, the bills are paid, my writing assignments are done and my hair is washed.