- Maybe it was just my family but, growing up, the adults and older kids had a very simple rule which kept family get-togethers running smooth(ish): Meal conversations were not to include religion or politics or the politics OF religion- or the politics of our family's old church which, I'll just politely say, was at most times more politics than actual church.
- I have my opinions regarding our (the United States and international) laws, economy, civil rights, crime trends, etc. On certain issues, I have very strong beliefs. On other subjects, I have wavering or ever-changing stances. On a lot of things, I'm completely (or at least mostly) uninformed and I've not the gumption to argue something I know very little about.
- There aren't many topics on which I think there is a bindingly obvious "right" side to take. Yes, even regarding the issues on which I'm strongly swayed. For example, I'm stubbornly grounded to one side of our country's gun control issue. However, I can very easily understand the "other" side and why they feel as strongly as they do. I can be objective, I can see their reasoning yet I can (and do) still adamantly disagree.
(That last part being said, let me be clear that I'm talking about other decent people in general and I'm not saying that I could sit and have an objective conversation with a face-of-evil like, say, Hitler. I couldn't. At all. I'd probably shank him.)
Here are the basics so far, if you're not keeping up: A) I don't like tensing up friendly situations with combative political bickering, B) I don't presume to defend or discount things I haven't even Google'd, let alone actually learned about and, C) My humanity is still intact enough that I can seek out understanding of the opposition instead of casting them aside as though they are worthless or morons or anything less than a person who is simply from a different walk of life than myself.
That's just how I roll, y'all.
I think it's absolutely captivating to listen to someone talk about an issue they feel very strongly about, even if I don't exactly concur. I think its beautiful for a person to care so much about something that is so much bigger than them. I do. I think that the only way to progress and improve as a nation is for enough people who truly care to do something. And, that HAS to start as talking it out. I guess I just get lost at the "low blows" and inappropriateness that happens so often in this territory. When it comes to two normal people, two adults with no grand political influence, two friends even- each on a different side of a certain topic- who get into an intense battle and come out with stuff like "That's what I would expect from you, you [expletive] slut." Whoa, guys. Chill out. She said she supports the idea of pills like Plan B, she didn't say she thinks they need to be sold alongside the Skittles.
Is it such a silly thing to want to see people I care about calmly talk as though they understand that not everyone can be of the same exact mind? Also, can we talk about the not so ideal places that people choose to stand at their invisible podium and preach?
There are plenty of times and plenty of places for discussing, however heatedly, your political views. I just happen to think that a child's birthday party or a friend's baby shower or a grocery checkout line are all improper venues for that type of discussion to take place. I'm here for Dutch Chocolate ice cream and a loaf of bread, sir, but yes I would love to hear your ideas on the white vs. minority correlation to violent crime. Uhm, actually no. That's sarcasm and all I really want to do is shove a spoon in my ear. After I use said spoon to eat my Blue Bell, that is. Also, it'd be sarcasm if I said I wanted to argue about our failing education system while I'm watching my child blow out her candles. I'm not naive and I don't think ignoring issues makes them go away. I just have this perhaps juvenile wish that my happy or less-stressed moments are kept that way. We can always argue women's reproductive rights tommorow, but right now my kids are enjoying the park and I just want to watch them be amazed by that butterfly.
People are so openly combative over some things that I sometimes do wonder what it'd have been like if my family had been as open to the politically charged discussions back in the day. Would Uncle John's ex-wife have been offput by Daddy's hard right-leaning views? (Probably.) Would Mom and Uncle Mike have fought even harder than they did over the whipped/sour cream incident? (Don't ask.) Would Aunt Sandy and Nana have talked women's reproductive rights over coffee? (I can totally picture Nana knitting us blankets as she spoke about her own youth.) If my Aunt C had been involved in a Second Amendment debate with my cousin's girlfriend's liberal parents, would we children have ever been given the gift of her burping contests or M&M stashes? (You WISH you had an aunt that cool.)
All in all, I'm glad my sometimes backwards family had the ground rule we did. I took from it an ability to accept the friendship or company of another person without needing to prescreen their donkey/elephant affiliations. As fun as its been as an adult to gain insight into those family member's stances, I'm certainly going to raise my children in a similar environment (maybe less of the mullet-y hair, though, I'm talking to YOU dad and Uncle John). I don't want my kids to hear me tell a family friend that they're an idiot for voting one way and then grow to reject anything different. I don't want my kids to see me scoff at everything another parent says after discovering their opinion on our healthcare system and then think they have to reject that parent's kids.
I just don't want my kids to be mean, that's all. Politics or not.