04 February 2014

Holy Raging Solipsist, Batman!

Solipsist: the theory that the self is all you know to exist.

Or, "a person that believes his or her version of reality is the only version that exists".

Or, "one who thinks that just because he hates it, everyone else should hate it, too".

Who doesn't know a solipsist or two? Heck, we're surrounded by closed-minded idiots daily, be it in person or via media.
The Westboro Baptist Church is very vocal about its beliefs
Photo Courtesy: NPR.org
These people are paraded out in popular news programs as "expert analysts" that can speak clearly and objectionably about complex issues. However, these experts usually resort to attacking the people whom they oppose instead of focusing on the issues at hand.

And, OH! What apocalyptic clashes of will and intelligence (or lack thereof) ensues when two solipsists are brought in to debate an issue (note: I use "debate" very loosely...). Progress and compromise can't happen if a solipsist is thrown into the mix; it's simply impossible.

Jump to about 1:30 in to get the gist of solipsism at its finest.
Courtesy YouTube

Let's face it; it's insanely easy to spot a rampant solipsist. But in that truth lies a great irony. In some way, shape, or form, we've all got a little solipsist in us. How readily are we able to recognize or admit to the solipsist in us all?

During the SuperBowl, Coca-Cola aired a commercial that caused no shortage of anger.
Apparently, a lot of people went a little nuts in response to the ad that sang "America the Beautiful" in the eight-most spoken languages in America. Is the multilingual rendition of this beloved anthem an enlightened step forward? Or, is it an insult to our country that they sang a traditional American song in any language other than English?

Or, to be more broad, what's your view on immigration?
Or the death penalty?
Or abortion?
Gay marriage?
Or the conservative right-wing? Former President George H.W. Bush?
Or the liberal left-wing? President Barack Obama?
Or parents and teachers?
Or generation iY?
Or the Catholic church? Christianity? Islam? Hinduism? Taoism?

Few people could read that list and not feel strongly about these hot button topics, and it's in these controversial issues that we find the key to test our own solipsistic tendencies.

Let's look at an example. Are you pro-choice, or pro-life? Whichever you are, how willing would you be to sit and listen to someone who believed differently about it? To take in that other person's viewpoint and rationale without refuting his or her evidence? Without jumping in and disagreeing? How likely are you to honestly take that point of view into consideration and question your own beliefs? Would you be willing to admit that your view may not be entirely correct?

If the thought of sitting and listening only--to question your own beliefs instead of someone else's--sounds like an awful experience, then I daresay you, my friend, are a solipsist, too.

Actually, as I look over that list and try to entertain the opposite viewpoint, I'm pretty sure I've got a little (or a lot) of solipsist in me that I need to work on.

When it comes down to it, it's a wonder that anyone gets anything done!

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