Anatomy of a rant
Why am I saying all this?
I met someone the other day who made the mistake of stating his opinion on a certain issue on which he had little expertise. And yet, he plodded on with passion raging through his flared nostrils and his voice rising to a higher octave as he hammered away ineptly over each and every point of his so-called argument. He thought shouting aloud made him come across as a persuasive orator but it only invited pity. Of course, I didn't say that to his face because I didn't feel it was tactful to shatter a man's preconceived notions of himself. Not the right thing to do, even if one is in the right. Or so I believe.
But such experiences throw light on so many other issues as well. If one pays close attention to someone's ranting, then, one can, also, get a peek into motives, reasons, purpose and other behind-the-scenes stuff. Sometimes people hold on to a silly premise not because they are convinced by it but because rejecting that premise would force them to adopt a new perspective and opinion. Many people don't like that. They are comfortable in their pre-suppositions, and quite cosy with their favoured myths. Their pre-suppositions have developed roots and are so deeply entrenched in their consciousness that any other paradigm would seem like a bad idea. Even if it makes sense, they'd choose to reject because it's safer to do so.
I can imagine I could be in danger of doing just that, and falling prey to the very things I am ranting against. After all, it is natural to have a few pet premises that one can use as one's ideological prism and favoured benchmark. But the problem is, years of being considered 'weird' and a 'contrarian', as far as public opinion is concerned, has turned out to be of great benefit to me. While it used to upset me when I was young and would often rattle my self-confidence as I was growing up, but now it's like water on a duck's back. I am now able to look back and look at arguments with a certain detachment and search for motives behind any ranting I encounter. It didn't happen in a day but took years to accomplish, and I'm still scraping only a thin crust so far.
But if there is anything I've learned, then, it is this: intelligence is not measured by the answers we know, but by the questions we ask.