It may burst your bubble to come too near
To this prickly truth I’m about to tell you, friend,
But I am under no obligation to become
A conspirator in your self-deceit.
Do not expect me to play along with you,
Nor even to pretend I didn’t see or hear
What I saw or heard.
Nope, you’ve picked the wrong guy for that,
For it just so happens that I’m one of
The freakish few who hold to the conviction
That no one—not even myself—
Has a right to hold to a wrong opinion
On any subject!
And if I don’t think I have that right,
I certainly don’t think you have it.
Yes, I do understand that you have
Practical control over your beliefs—
Which, incidentally, is a responsibility that was
Assumed upon you by God, and that will be
Reviewed by him when you die—
And I told you this was going to be prickly—
And you have no moral right to abuse your beliefs as you do—
Promoting things that you know, or should know, are wrong.
And if that’s true, you certainly have no moral right
To to strong-arm those who would dare
To tell you the truth about yourself.
The fact of the matter is that you have
No proper right whatsoever to be protected from their dissent.
So, even though the TV and the Internet
Tell you that you’ve got every right
That you can imagine upon yourself,
I’m going to remind you of some of
The rights you have that they will
Probably neglect to mention to you:
- You have the right to learn how to operate honestly, rationally, and responsibly in this beautiful/ugly real world.
- You have the right to be a morally-upright person.
- You have the right to tell yourself and others the truth.
- You have the right to admit it, and to change your mind when you know you’re in the wrong.
- You have the right to listen to reason, and to surrender yourself responsibly to it.
- You have the right to do what is morally right, even if it costs you something you love.
- You have the right to deal unhypocritically with others.
- You have the right to let the truth be the truth, even if it hurts.
- You have the right to protect the freedom of speech of others, even as you cherish that freedom for yourself.
- You have the right to stop doing to other people whatever you wish they would not do to you.
And you’re not going to like this, but
I also think you have a moral obligation
To God and to others to do these things,
Because rights and duties go together,
And are not properly separate matters,
As you have been convinced they are.
So you can come over here and make your case,
But I’ve given you fair warning in advance
That you should not expect me to be
Either dishonest or silent with you,
As are so very many others who cannot stand
To endure an awkward exchange.
I will not be bullied into keeping my mouth shut,
Nor tricked into thinking silence the “loving” response.
And don’t expect me to manage you by lying to you.
I ask you, if you are so adamant that your opinion is the right one,
Why are you so needy for having others to agree with you?
And what do you gain from having me
Lie to your face like so many others?
There’s a grand experiment afoot
To see how many can be tricked or bullied
Into agreeing with that they know—
Or should know—is wrong.
And they’re telling you that
Getting your feelings hurt
Is proof that you’re in the right—
But if that’s how it works,
Shouldn’t you tread softly, friend,
As you risk hurting mine?
For if you did, how would that not be
Equally valid “proof” that I am the one who is right?