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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Political discourse

Yesterday, I went next door to talk to my neighbor about some problems we are having down the street with an empty lot being used to dump garbage. We ended up chatting about various things when she informs me that they may be moving.
"We just have to move to a blue state".
Now I enjoy a discussion of politics as much as anyone, but there is much wisdom is the old adage that polite conversation steers away from politics and religion. These sort of comments tend to have two possible results:

1. In the case where the other person agrees, there is a sense of relief.
2. However, in the case where the other person doesn't agree, it creates a wedge that says that we probably aren't going to get along if we don't have the same political beliefs.

I think that this does much harm to creating community. I'm not saying people should always hold their tongue regarding political or controversial issues. However, don't always assume that others are going to agree with you. I'd rather develop a relationship with someone first built upon shared respect. When political issues do inevitably arise, there will be a basis for maintaining the relationship in the face of possible disagreement.

As an aside, I am often amused by people who speak out about political issues as if they have just done the bravest thing possible. This is such a farce. We tend to venerate those who rebel against societal standards. I'm not sure that many people ever pay any price for their speech in this country. Not that they should, but I'm not sure why we should boast about something like this.

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