by David Todd McCarty | Friday, November 20, 2015
We have a saying in the McCarty family: Often wrong, but never in doubt. No one has ever accused a McCarty of not having a strong opinion. Even in the face of insurmountable odds, we’re sure we’re going the right way, have the right tools for the job, and understand clearly how to achieve the goal at hand. That’s not to say we haven’t ended up at the bottom of a cliff, or on the wrong side of the barrel of a gun in the course of our efforts.
But we’re confident, not stupid. We realize we get it wrong as often as we get it right, but that doesn’t stop us from believing wholeheartedly in our vision of success. Which is to say, I come by it honestly, and I’m aware of my limitations in rare moments of reflection.
We’re an old Irish clan, so it should come as no big surprise that we have big ideas and strong opinions. We come from an island of Kings. Kingdoms with no power and no wealth. Pride is what we had instead of land and riches.
My family, originally known as the Mac Cárthaigh clan comes from County Cork, which is one of the oldest clans in Ireland. The motto on our coat of arms is, “Nothing is Difficult to the Brave and Faithful.” That’s pretty cocky if you ask me.
It was my father who coined the motto for our immediate family. He might have picked it up from someone else, but we’ve always claimed it as our own. I think someone made t-shirts one year. They looked like dictionary definitions. McCarty. (n) 1. One who is often wrong, but never in doubt.
Now most of the time, I really do think I know what I’m talking about. I read a lot. I try to stay well-informed. I try not to talk about subjects I’m ignorant of and if there are holes in my knowledge, I try to educate myself. And still, at the end of the day, the more I learn, the more I realize how out of my depths I really am.
I can certainly speak passionately about how I feel about something. But I’m afraid we already have way too much of that in America. A belief system based on how you feel about something, rather than based in facts. It’s the science of belief.
I saw a post not that long ago, where a woman had posted something obviously erroneous, and she was being corrected, albeit with some force, and her response was, “Jeez. Can’t we all have different opinions?”
To quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
I have been trying to stick to my opinions, but eventually my comments bleed over into facts and while I do my best to research my arguments, I’m probably lucky if I’m hitting .500. That’s right. I’m probably just as full of shit as anyone when it comes to speaking knowledgeably about a wide variety of subjects. That’s because with the information age, and the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips, we all know a little about a lot of things, but not much about any one thing.
A lot of people think I’m full of shit and maybe I am. There are also a lot of people who claim I don’t want to hear any opposition; that I don’t allow for a difference of opinion.
They may be right. I’ve been thinking about it. Do I just take my ball and go home? Sometimes.
Here’s how I look at it.
I have generally tried to not post my contradictory opinions on other’s feeds. If I see something I disagree with, I make an effort to post to my own page, rather than getting into an argument on someone else’s page. That seems reasonable to me.
So when someone jumps into a conversation on my page, and starts making accusations, blanket statements or attacks on individuals, I get my back up. I’ll argue for a bit but after awhile, I get tired.
There’s another issue. While I realize that Facebook, and social media in general, is a public forum, I’m not an elected official. I’m not a public service. I don’t have to do any of it, and therefore, the moment it doesn’t become enjoyable for me, I’m out.
If that means unfriending a stranger, rather than expending a lot of energy dealing with them, I think that’s my prerogative. I’m not going to apologize for that.
I’m okay with you expressing an opposition argument, as long as it doesn’t become a personal thing. I think I’m usually pretty good about this myself. I try to never attack an individual. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that too. I’m not claiming to be a saint.
But when someone makes it personal, I close down. I have no patience for passionate arguments with strangers that aren’t going anywhere. I just don’t have the energy and it’s pointless.
I have been known to be wrong. Maybe once or twice. Yesterday.
I’m not sure how often I admit it at the time, but I often look back on things and think, “Oh, man. What an ass.” It happens. I assume it’s not just me. But that’s the way it goes.
Doesn’t stop me from making a passionate case about topics I feel strongly about, or about being right, which of course I am.
As I said, I’m often wrong, but never in doubt.