A few days ago I wrote a few words on immigration. I don’t usually do that but it was in my head and I was in a productive mood so it fell out. Since then I’ve been sitting back and watching.
The most interesting thing to change since then is the stuff going on in my own head. As usual with emotive topics there has been much piffle posted and much bluster blustered. Normally when somebody posts something I don’t agree with, it doesn’t bother me. If somebody writes about their experience with ghosts, it’s easy to dismiss it, because clearly they’re deluded. But now I’m seeing pieces that disagree with my voiced opinion and I find myself getting irritated. That’s weird. What’s going on there? Well, it’s called cognitive dissonance. I’ve stuck my pole in the sand and I’m seeing views that differ. The dissonance comes from the subconscious knowledge that they might be right, but my silly old brain won’t let me accept that, so it surfaces as irritation. It’s a dead giveaway, that. When you start getting narky about a difference of opinion, it’s usually because you know they might be right and your brain is protecting you against having to admit you might be wrong.
Once you recognise that, it’s a lot easier to step back and view your own opinions with a bit of objectivity. If I look at the evidence I have, it’s just stuff I’ve read in the media. If I look at the counter-evidence I’m seeing now, that’s just stuff from the media too. Sure, some media outlets are more reliable than others – my rule of thumb is, if the BBC isn’t reporting it, it’s probably bullshit – but regardless, it’s impossible to report on a story like this without the reader picking up their own spin on the issue. Basically, you can’t trust what you read and you can’t trust your own interpretations.
And that’s *before* you take into account the immense complexity of any issue that involves thousands or millions of people. There’s no black and white. Even if some of these refugees are having a pop at people trying to help them, we don’t know the background to that and it might be an isolated incident. And if it is, it isn’t fair to judge the majority on the basis of that. After all, I don’t expect to be treated like a football hooligan when I’m a tourist abroad, despite that fact that a small number of English tourists are like that.
I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say here. My pole’s still in the same place in the sand. I still think there are people that need our help, and that providing that help is the right thing to do both ethically and practically. I haven’t changed my opinion. But neither I nor you has anything like enough reliable information to have any confidence that we’re right. So I’m not going to comment on it again.
Unless I get pissed and open the laptop again. That could happen.