I think “obviously” is one of the most dangerous words in the English language, as is its more formal and old-fashioned counterpart, “self-evident”. When the US Declaration of Independence was written, with its famous, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” slavery was still legal on this continent, and women could not vote. To this very day, equality seems to elude us. Clearly that truth isn’t self-evident to everyone.
Truth is truth. Facts are facts. You have a right to your opinion. But that doesn’t mean these things are obvious or even generally accepted.
When I hear myself or someone else say obviously, I take it as a cue to evaluate the statement. Here are some things that some find obvious, but others do not, sometimes with good reason.
- A healthy environment is more important than a healthy bank account.
- If you deprive a mentally ill person of the right to own an assault weapon, you are part of the problem.
- Everything tastes better when you wrap it in bacon.
- There’s someone out there for you.
- It’s impossible to function without an iPhone.
- My children are a delight to be around and can do no wrong.
- Gay marriage is the end of civilization as we know it.
- Growing old is a bad thing.
- Everyone would prefer to work in an office rather than outside.
- When Donald Trump says he’d bring back waterboarding, we should all cheer.
- My religion is the only true one.
- Everyone should read my blog.
- This land is your land.
- If you’re not a size 3, you should be ashamed of your body.
- Education is dangerous.
- Knowledge is power.
- ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
It’s important to remember that not everyone sees the world in the same way. Obviously.