Stephen Clare
The Silhouette


I am told that that there are no easy answers. I inquire, I research, I compare and contrast. I “examine all sides of an issue.” I weigh pros and cons and call for further analysis. I approach opposing arguments with a receptive mind and carefully consider each point, concurring and countering as needed. I try to be critical and open-minded and eventually settle on either a tentative conclusion or, with a regretful sigh, an acknowledgement that there are no easy answers.

But I long for the easy answers.

I am caught between opposing viewpoints, paralyzed by an overload of information. Each solution seems differently flawed, this argument as problematic as the next. Ideology is rejected as blind and static, but without this anchor I drift aimlessly. Beyond the easy answers I find no answers at all. They may have led me into failure but at least they led me somewhere.

So I long for the easy answers.

Each thought that tumbles through my head is followed by a barking counter-point. Sentences with conviction collapse under their own weight.

God, I long for the easy answers.

Oh, I have principles. Sustainability. Respect. Justice. Guiding lights that I can look for in ideas and policies, or checkboxes to be ticked. But for every principle an argument holds it violates another. Maybe it bolsters sustainability but sacrifices individual freedom. Trade-offs. Weights on a scale with no unit of measurement.

How can I function in this paralysis? How can I vote, how can I support initiatives, how can I engage in debate as a participant rather than a bystander? How can I act?

It is you all that did this to me. It is the articles that appear in this very paper, it is the discussions that take place in these very classrooms, it is the people I have met on this very campus. You have infected me with this eye-opening, maddening, headache. I can see all sides of the square but it’s made me cross-eyed.

And is it not ironic that by questioning the disease I reveal its very symptoms? The easy answer is to start accepting the easy answers, but to accept that is unconscionable.

Because an easy answer is not an answer at all. I know that. I get it.

Still, though.

I long for the easy answers.

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