Walmart Opinions, Chanel Ideas

by Caroline Ferdinandsen

When foreigners come to the States, they often remark at the overwhelming inventory at most retail stores. In this country if you want to buy, let’s just say, a bra, you must choose its size, season, brand, fabric, color scheme, embellishments, clasps, stitching, style, sensuality-scale, functionality, and age-range. The average American woman has to apply the wisdom of Solomon just to hoist her goods.

Ideas are for sale, too. And the shelves are just as cluttered.

This weekend’s newsworthy events, for example, have created a mountain of cognitive inventory. Tornado footage, royal nuptials, and Bin Laden commentaries lay in piles like the clothes at Costco while the public sifts through them for the right size. All this fluorescent lighting is really giving me a headache.

What are we to do with all these opinions? I think I have some important things to say, but so do you. I know because I’ve seen them on Facebook. When a big event strikes, the inventory of sentiments grows unnaturally huge, even unhealthy. Like a foreigner who shows up at Wal-Mart just looking for a toothbrush, I leave the store having found too much and nothing at all.

Some have defended the multiplicity of ideas, and rightly so. Exposure to only one idea, or two, is rarely good for a society. British writer Benjamin Disraeli said of a colleague, “He was distinguished for ignorance; for he had only one idea and it was wrong.” He is right. I like having at least three bras to try on before I buy one.

But we have moved too far the other way. We have devalued our country’s most important ideas by allowing everyone’s opinion to be right…

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