“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?
Some one once said that it is never a good idea to discuss politics and religion while in the barber’s chair!
The lack of civil discourse today concerns many people across the political and religious perspective and with the use of social media the long held tradition of a ‘thirty second sound bite’ is now done in shorts burst of 140 characters (or less) with the goal of ‘out shouting’ the other side.
So is it never a good idea to discuss religion and politics with people you really don’t know?
Well, I can say that sometimes it is a good idea to NOT discuss either with people you do know!
I suggest this roundabout answer to the question:
What if we began to talk about what we value in life? What if we framed our discussions in ways that invited others to identify what they value when it comes to various issues. What if we talked about how we value the freedom of choice (and both ‘sides’ usually do) on a matter?
What if we shared a personal account (not an editorial and not a sound bite) about why we valued equality on a matter rather than inequality?
Perhaps we could discuss the issue of not just politics and religion but of other vitally important subjects.
Here is another perspective – How we process our views. Some of us are extroverts and we ‘think out loud.’ I tend to be this way and I used to scare my wife to death because she actually thought that we were going to do whatever I was speaking about ! I was just processing the issue out loud to come to a decision.
Others of us are introverts and we think, and think… and think before we speak (if we do at all.) We have something vital to say but the fear of being overwhelmed by the loud extroverted nature of public discourse causes us to keep quiet and never share.
So, should we discuss politics and religion? Yes! They are like coffee and cream. Some like sugar added and some like it black. But we all like the basic beverage – coffee. They are both questions about values and “The Good” we seek to live in and by.
I fear that the common ground of public discourse has shrunk both within the faith community and in the public community as well. It’s time to take back some ground!