Jun 7, 2011

The Green Shirt Theory

I would have liked to claim the title "the observer", if not for the small matter of a British weekly newspaper which stole the name from me, or should I say beat me to it. The Observer has been around for over 200 years. So I cannot make that claim.

The human ability to distinguish between fact and opinion goes back more than 200 years, all the way back to the origins of human rational, sensible thinking actually. Our ancestral and evolutionary roots tell us that much at least. It is also defined clearly in any dictionary you may come across. And here is an extract from one:

something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fearshave no basis in fact.
something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
a truth known by actual experience or observation;something known to be true: Scientists gather facts aboutplant growth.

a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient toproduce complete certainty.
a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
the formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for asecond Medical opinion.

Although opinion and fact are in truth opposites, it seems like we haven't taken the courtesy, collectively, to really "learn to live" with both these terms combined, and by combined I mean distinguishing between them and presenting each as it is, not as the other. I also mean finding where our priorities lie. Should we value opinion over fact? I would say let's build opinions based on facts. I would also think of the consequences of reversing that formula, but I have not the time or will power to point out the obvious. And I'll leave it at that.

I've always wanted to come up with something smart, and I think I've got something here; I call it The Green Shirt Theory:
"To say a shirt is green, is a fact. To say you like green shirts is an opinion."

Seen as this isn't by any means a free English grammar lesson, nor a read into the history of British journalism, I think it's time I got to my point.

To the observer, and I do mean any observer, it is obvious that a significant amount of the Jordanian people have taken to mixing up fact with opinion. This has become a normal practice whenever any politics, or even religion, springs up in natural conversation, and I would point out that this has become somewhat of a trend as of late.. I use the term "springs up" in referral to the Arab Spring, or so it has been called. Another phrase I got beaten to by a journalist.

The criticism, analysis, or even mere mention of any of the following: government, king, queen, prime minister, traffic jam, etc, are seen by a large number of our "more amusing" citizens as non-patriotic. Things that real Jordanians, or Jordan-Lovers, do not and should not do.

It would seem obvious, but I would still like to take the following as an example:

Patriotism, love, red-lines. Opinions.

Limited freedom of speech, interference in journalism, downhill economy. Facts.

Respecting authority means being obedient to authority, and that shouldn't be automatic. It should be earned based on performance. Some times our authority deserves it, most of the time it doesn't. Period.

You can like your green shirt all you want, but do me a favor will you, don't tell me its white.