Status: Ignore my title. I’m weird.
Why hello there everyone. I had no clue I was posting this week, but apparently according to other people, well. I actually was supposed to post this ages ago. So in a horribly belated attempt to reconcile my horrible, horrible mistake, I shall write you this post while I’m exhausted after playing basketball for about 3 hours.
We’re covering controversial topics for these two weeks, and boy oh boy, I suppose I’m no stranger to them. When I debate pops up in an area, I can simply wade into the debate, swinging left, right, and centre. I can’t tell why I do it sometimes, but it just bursts out of me. Which is confusing, and largely involuntary. I know, it sounds like I need help. But no, I’m not going to seek any. So there.
In the past few years, where I’ve gotten into such debates, I’ve been opened up to many opinions, many different sides of the issues, and I believe that I’ve learnt a couple of important lessons along the way. One is to have a tough skin, of course. But since this is about putting controversial topics in the spotlight in your work, let’s get to work.
So you want to tackle a controversial topic? What do you need to do? Here are some things you should do before you put your opinion out there.
1 – Be ready for opponents to your opinion. Why? Because there will always be people who will oppose your opinion. In fact, your closest friends might hold a completely different opinion from you, and you might feel uncomfortable putting your opinion on your work. The moot point? Expect people to challenge you on your opinion, expect people to hate you for your opinion. If you aren’t ready for people to not like your work, or to alienate a portion of your potential reader base (which begets the question, why do you even deal with potential rather than hard statistics), then do not place your opinion in your work.
2 – Do your research, make sure your arguments stand. I cannot stress this enough. There are many reasons why people oppose, say, separation of church and state, or support it. If you want to make a stand, do so with pride. But make sure your reasons for it are expressed without holes that could sink your ship the moment another well-educated, well-researched person comes along. You have to know how to defend your opinions, you have to not get involved emotionally and let your emotions alter and colour your stance. Passion is one thing, but you have to rein it in when you respond.
3 – Choose your battles wisely. You can never fight all your battles. You cannot hold on so many fronts. Remember, you are one person against the world. Personally, I’m sick and tired of people crying reverse-racism and saying that they aren’t homophobes when they are. I’m tired of being Asian and being judged for it, I’m tired of things that I have to fight everyday. It’s not a glamourous business, to work on the front-lines of debates. It is exhausting, tiring, absolutely disenchanting work. It exposes so many horrible sides of people, and you might ruin a friendship or two in the process. If you need time to rest up, go get it. Choose your battles. Block people from leaving you hate. Get support, get friends to help you in your fight. Remember: Once your opinion is out there, defend it with pride. There is no turning back.
4 – Some people are not to be treated with respect. While my friend Raven believes that everyone should be treated with respect, and that you should rein in your opinions, here is what I think – my controversial opinion, if you will. Some people are just not worth your respect. A person who comes to you with hate should not be treated with tact and grace. There is no reason for a stranger to expect that from you, there is no reason for you to play the better person all the time. You are human, you can get frustrated. Your feelings matter. There is a line to be drawn when there are people who mindlessly hate on people especially with no logical, sound reasoning whatsoever. In which case, I take vindicative pleasure in responding with anger, passion, and rage.
A writer’s words are used like flensing knives, after all. Precise, sharp, deadly. To hit in all the right places. Where it will hurt the most.
5 – I cannot stress it enough. Once it is out there, it is out there. Always be 100% ready to deal with the support/criticism/hate that your opinion will garner. If you have any doubts whatsoever about your opinion, do not hit that post button.
And that’s about it.