Saturday, July 30, 2016

This is Not a Political Post

This is not a political post.  There you have clearance to read it.  (I drafted this a few years ago but never published.  Sorry the end is unfinished, but I'd like to get this out.)

A question has been bugging me for a long time, and a recent conversation (that I didn't initiate) brought it back into the forefront of my mind.

I make political posts on FB, and I'm sure I've had my posts blocked by friends.  I know many people ignore my posts, and some have even defriended me.  I see people who express annoyance in general at political or religious conversations.  Many people will walk away from conversations if they drift toward anything political.  Even among family members, there seems to be an unwritten agreement to avoid any topic that may lead to a difference of opinion. 

Why are we so averse to engaging in any conversation that may lead to a difference of opinion?  What are we afraid of?  Do we think that we may lose friends?

One person said recently that she doesn't like to engage in political discussions because they get too heated.  I think the reason they get too heated is because we have to bottle up our opinions so tightly that when they are able to come out, we're like pressure cookers, ready to explode.  If we were able to express our opinions freely and if not change anyone's mind, at least know that our voice was heard, discussions could be much more civil.

The exchange of ideas is tantamount to our freedom as Americans.  If we censor ourselves to the point that we say nothing controversial, what good is having our First Amendment rights?

For what reason are we so afraid?  Are we afraid to offend?  So what?  What harm is there in that?  We have no guarantee against being offended.  Are we afraid to lose friends?  Look, if someone will stop being friends with you because of your opinions, they're probably not a good friend to you anyway.  Are we that thin-skinned and fragile that we think our relationships can't survive a difference of opinion? 

If we then form our relationships on the foundation of not sharing anything of importance, we are only setting ourselves up for loneliness and isolation.

From a civic point of view, it is the role of the citizen to criticize, to engage, to question, to get angry, and to voice his concerns.   Voicing our concerns, we enlist the support of our community to form bonds and work together.  But we bully ourselves into a corner.

Speaking of bullying, I believe that we have gotten to a point where the voicing of unpopular opinions is now being misunderstood for bullying.  I was bullied as a kid, and I've had people take me to task for my opinions.  And I know the difference.

My wife brought up a good point.  Many people have become jaded either by religious figures or the political system, that people want to guard themselves against further hurt, or they are cynical of the intentions of anyone who wants to engage in discussion of issues, for fear that they are merely the target of manipulation and exploitation.

burying heads in the sand...nothing I can do about it anyway...
have a business, don't want to offend customers...
leave it to the exremists I'm independent-minded

what do we do about it?

moral relativism, no truth, so claims on truth are just one more opinion

not saying people have to do things like I do, find your own way, bu

i see discussing politics as a means of something else of importance.  the tangible vs idealistic/theoretical

If this post applies to you, I don't apologize.  But neither will I call upon you to do anything you're not comfortable with.  I merely posit this as food for thought.  And it is, in my opinion, a very important meal.

I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of colleagues this morning.  The gist of it was that we have become so afraid of offending anyone--ANYONE-- that we self-censure to the point that we don't say anything at all. 

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