Don’t Be Afraid

It’s been said that there are two things you should not bring up in general conversation: Politics and Religion. Well to be frank, I think that’s a loud of bull shit. Those are probably the two most important things in any given society. Those two topics encompass the majority of human drive to do positive or negative things. It seems like topics as large and important as politics and religion are things that should be brought up and discussed rather than left out of conversation, scolded as the instigator.
The main reason it is advised that those topics should be left out of conversation is because they tend to get people riled up. They tend to influence people in an irrational way. Any given person has most likely grown up in or around some sort of religious system and been taught some manner of political bias by their parents or family members. The whole goal, according to this exclusionary rule, is to avoid controversy. Isn’t controversy what this country is built on? Aren’t you allowed to have your own opinion and view and argue for your position? Of course you are. The only problem here is that in our culture, a disagreement tends to become very heated, very quickly. Passion is a positive thing, but it seems like as a culture we take things far too personally. I’m sure most people have experienced the intra-family political dinner conversations where that one uncle raises his voice a little too much and becomes clearly frustrated. This is not what we want. This is not productive at all.
Political and religious discussion should be encouraged, but not at the detriment of our civility and mutual respect. I have personally got into conversations about religion and god only to have the Christian/theist/believer in question throwing his/her hands up and yelling by the end of the conversation. I’ve also had extremely pleasant philosophical and political discussions, as it should be. If we are not speaking our minds out of fear of offending someone, we should think of a better reason. Instead of closing ourselves off to our respective thoughts, concerns, and beliefs, we should open up to each other. There is much to be gained from listening to what your fellow man has to say.
It’s also important not to dismiss someone’s words before giving them due consideration. There are lots of examples of this sort of thing but the most immediate example that comes to mind is one I encounter personally from time to time. Particularly when I’m discussing politics with someone older than me, I’m often dismissed almost immediately because apparently I’m “too young” to have any “real life” experience. Not only is that condescending, it’s plain out annoying. Another equally annoying presumption is that an African-American is going to vote Democrat every time. It’s not a healthy mindset to get into.
So the next time you’re out on a date or sitting at dinner with your friends and family, get into politics. Get into religion. They’re important issues and not something to be afraid of. You may be surprised how well you can get to know a person through political and religious discussion.

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