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Same Kind of Different as Me

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A very funny ('cause it's true) poem about critical thinking

From Taylor Mali on "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry" in 2002:

In case you hadn't noticed, it has somehow become uncool to sound like you know what you're talking about? Or believe strongly in what you're, like, saying? Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)'s have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences? Even when those sentences aren't, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences--so-­‐called because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true, okay, as opposed to other things are, like, totally, you know, not? They've been infected by this tragically cool and totally hip interrogative tone? As if I'm saying, Don't think I'm a nerd just because I've noticed this; this is just like the word on the street, you know? It's like what I've heard? I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay? I'm just like inviting you to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty?

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What has happened to our conviction? Where are the limbs out on which we once walked? Have they been, like, chopped down with the rest of the rain forest? You know? Or do we have, like, nothing to say? Has society become so, like, totally . . . I mean absolutely . . . You know? That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like . . . whatever!

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness is just a clever sort of . . . thing to disguise the fact that we've become the most aggressively inarticulate generation to come along since . . . you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you, I challenge you: To speak with conviction.

To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it. Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY. You have to speak with it, too.

© Taylor Mali

Reminds me a little of an old song:

Because something is happening here But you don't know what it is, Do you, Mister Jones?

and another song that isn't quite as old:

He's the one who likes all our pretty songs 

And he likes to sing along 

And he likes to shoot his gun 

But he don't know what it means

Damn Dylan and Cobain. Such arrogant, snobby elitists!

(with thanks to Steven Boone)

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