Of Gorillas and Guns and Expertise

It seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? You remember, that time when we all became experts on gorilla behavior. And parenting. Boy, did we bring out the self-righteous pitchforks on that one.

Then, we got distracted from our armchair zoology by a 3-month sentence for a young man who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, and suddenly we all became experts on judicial sentencing. And, it’s worth mentioning that, all sarcasm aside, there are far too many women who are experts at dealing with the devastation of rape and sexual assault. Far, far too many.

Then a woman made history by becoming the presumptive nominee for President for the Democratic Party. And of course we had to point out all the reasons we shouldn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t allow that historical milestone to be celebrated. Because, you know, we’re all experts in political strategy and recent American political history.

And now we are wrestling with a horrible mass shooting, targeting those who really don’t deserve to be put through more than we’ve already put them through. And now we’re all experts on gun control and the 2nd amendment and LGBT issues.

To be honest, I’m tired of everyone being an expert.

The truth is, most of us aren’t experts at anything. We’re students of life. We’re observers. We’re laypeople; we can do our best to try to understand everything, but more often than not, we fail. Because we’re biased, because we don’t have all the information, and because sometimes, the information we have is wrong.

What we ARE experts at is far less noble than we think it is.

We are experts at judging people.

We are experts at wild speculation.

We are experts at listening only to those who speak to our particular bias.

We are experts at being mean, at cutting down others, at fostering fear of people who are different than us.

And we’ve gotten really, really good at crying out in pain, and having no way to channel our righteous anger into positive, forward-thinking action.

I usually try to end my blog posts with some sort of “but here’s how we could do better!” cheeriness. But I don’t think I can on this one. I don’t really know how. I guess I just want to say that I’m not an expert at any of the stuff we’re talking about these days. To be honest, this “un-expertise” has kept me from writing about all this stuff to date, because, really, I know nothing, Jon Snow. So I should just shut up, right? Maybe. But I do know a few things.

I know that I wish some real experts would step forward and help us figure out some of this out. You know, using facts and data and research and all that crazy, rational stuff. And I wish we had the guts to listen to them.

I know I’m grateful for my friends who ARE experts, and are doing all they can to help people.

I know it’s really sad that there is one less endangered gorilla in the world. And that it’s very good that there’s a little boy who’s still alive.

I know that I want to tell parents to give yourselves, and each other, a break – your jobs are hard enough without the world telling you all the ways you’re doing it wrong.

I know I must help the young kids in my life grow up to care for and respect each other, so maybe there will be fewer lives ruined by sexual assault in the future.

I know I will always remember the day Hillary Clinton smashed that glass ceiling and reminded us all to be thankful for the women who came before, who paved the path.

And I know that my heart is breaking for my friends in the LGBT and Muslim communities who are experts at being made to be afraid to live in their own homes, neighborhoods…and even their own country.

Maybe if we all became experts in taking care of each other, we’d do better. Maybe.

One thought on “Of Gorillas and Guns and Expertise

  1. first, you are wonderful philosopher (lover of wisdom), and a very good writer. I wish you’d get into actually formally publishing your work. and I am so proud to know you!!!!

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