To be a contrarian

When there is a graceless, awkward, and sometimes plain uncomfortable intellectual debate, you will find me taking the opposite side, not because I enjoy playing devil’s advocate, rather because I hold contrarian views to that of many of my peers. Yet, very few people realize the difficulties that arise out of holding such disparate views from the majority. They usually lead to attacks of one’s character, especially after arguments lead to derision.
The love of the pen has led me to the ideas that I hold close and even dare name my convictions. Yet, the price that one must pay is so little to holding to one’s beliefs that it is infinitely unimportant. The expense is the approval of others, something so irrelevant that it holds no bearing.
However, when one looks around, at least in one’s immediate surroundings he sees people who argue, model and compromise themselves to the beliefs of others in hopes of finding some sort of approval. As if we are all supposed to agree, and if we do we might live in a better society, where we can all be friends. This type of mentality is perfect for the bearing of those who know not for what they stand, or belief, as lost souls on some empty road. This is the age in which we live in, one where everyone is right, one where feelings must never be hurt, yet intellectual discourse has been demoted to infantile bickering.

In high school I joined a childish philosophy club where the dredges of the institution, those who claimed to be the “open-minded” took part in what was an aimless discussion of mysticism, and the philosophy of feelings, not of ideas. When one of my co-clubbers raised his empty palm and said “Who is to say that I do not have a quarter in my hand right now? What is reality anyways?”, I immediately left and never went back. As if reality is not what we see of it, and the perceptions that we through our rational mind make it out to be what. Uncertainty, lack of purpose, nihilism. These were the things that were taught in school; that the arguments of all were equal as none of them were the truth. “There is no real truth” they said.

In college I took one philosophy course, a survey one where we covered the “great” names of philosophy, from Plato “the irrational”, to Kant “the mystic”, and Hegel “the deluded”. Throughout the class it became clear that the professor wanted to make his students believe that their meaning in life rested in what we could offer to others. Our life’s purpose was the existence for others. Sharing was a virtue, work and ability were not, love for others was a virtue, not the love for one’s person. This is the current state of what is being thought to those of my age group. For them, feelings are more important than reason.

Today, when I enter discussions of any political or philosophical nature, people cannot help themselves but spew: “But think of the good of the whole of society. How about the good of the whole?”. Once I respond fervently, they continue by attacking me, from the way I look, to my background to the means by which I express myself, and the conversation which I wish I had never started ends.

There is one thing however which is much worse. The person who holds a view, and then molds it to fit yours. A lack of character and integrity usually lead people down this path, and there can be nothing more depressing, to think that someone would do that to themselves. I am against most of the views today not because I wish to, rather because the nature by which men come to ideas is exceptionally irrational. I am a contrarian by default, not by choice.

A great deal of people that use reason today, seem to be contrarian to the beliefs held by the masses.

Milad Doroudian, a native of Jassy, Romania, is a writer, historian, and the senior editor of The Art of Polemics magazine. He is currently working on a book on The Jassy Pogrom of 1941.