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My Sister the Postmodernist

December 7, 2014

“Everyone’s got an opinion. No one’s right.”

“Thats your opinion.”

“Well, thats what you say…”

“Thats subjective…”

Ah, siblings. Those family members of yours who are always willing to disagree with you. I’m sure its a trait that has existed for many years.

However, times change. My younger sister doesn’t know what postmodernism is outside of the vaguest mention in an art class, yet it perhaps is the zeitgeist of our age. Doubt, cynicism, questioning. Who can you trust?

Sometimes my sister insists upon my help, that I’m the only one who can solve a problem. Most of the time though – say, when in disagreement – it seems that all my learned teachings, experience, arguments, facts and theories are to be discarded as mere opinions. And when I say “yes, but opinions that are ground in fact, experience, wisdom and logic…” her reply is the same, denying the possibility that some opinions are most definitely more equal than others.

My sister is often an unwitting postmodernist.

If you think siblings are bad, postmodernist siblings are worse!

I get driven up the wall by some of my sister’s postmodern tendencies. There’s lessons for us all to learn.

Opinions and Decisions

I frequently say to my sister the famous dictums “the worst decision is indecision” , “just do it”, and I sometimes quote Graham Greene “sooner or later one has to take sides. If one is to remain human.”

My sister, when it suits her, chooses to say these are all opinions. I beg to differ – these are principles, aphorisms of wisdom.

Know this – indecision, dithering and incompetence drives people mad. Being decisive, confident and competent is highly valued.

Whining for others to solve a problem, or not taking action yourself is laziness and sloth. For instance, if people say “we really get together more…”, then they should be organising events themselves. Responsibility and duty are things we should all bear. For one person alone to bear the burdens of organising is too much – the cross weighs heavy.

If you don’t make a decision, then somebody else may have to. If you ask for ‘help’ or want an answer from somebody else to a question of yours, you are forcing them to make a decision. And that tires people out. We have a limited span of willpower, and it gets depleted by conscious decisions. Thats why car salesman will ask you a ton of trivial questions (what colour? This extra? This…) before big money items are added on with little resistance from you as you are tired. In short, indecision can be a major drain on willpower, and postmodernism a crippling mindset.

Of course, my sister doesn’t have the rigour to mount a good postmodern argument, so I’m oversimplifying here, but her claiming everything is an ‘opinion’ and being unwilling to decide simply makes the decision fall somewhere else. My sister sometimes says that she wishes to not listen to opinions because they are opinions and not ‘true’. Laudable. But the decision must be made, and somebody else has to decide.

All this does not mean, however, that we should just be opinionated and strive to have opinions. No. In fact, we commonly ought to reserve judgement on matters we know nothing about (or, in family matters… many things don’t always warrant judgements, trivial as they are) . I say this – only judge, if you can back it up with facts, experience, logic and wisdom.

At that point, your opinion can be called more equal than others!

Conclusions

I’ve been a little harsh on my sister today. Here are some lessons for you to take home:

  1. Postmodernism probably permeates your thoughts even if you don’t identify as postmodernist
  2. The worst decision is indecision
  3. By failing to decide because you think there is no answer, you simply force others to make the decision for you. This is parasitic.
  4. Our willpower is limited
  5. Reserve opinions often. Back up your expressed opinions properly.
  6. Some opinions are more equal than others.
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