don’t talk about politics

I would imagine the majority of the adult world would agree that politics is not typically something they want to discuss, especially among other adults who may disagree with their opinions. It’s off limits. Talk about sports, kids, your job, even how bad/good the president is doing (that’s not talking politics by the way). But we’re worried that if we get down to the dirty topics- racial inequality, public education, tax brackets, abortion, conflict in the Middle East, etc.- we may upset someone. I remember when I was in junior high or high school and would half-jokingly ask adults who they voted for in the recent election a lot of them wouldn’t tell me. And I thought “why not?.” Now, maybe some of them (especially teachers) wanted me to decide these things for myself and not be persuaded by their opinion simply because I looked up to them. I could certainly understand this for I do the same to my students now. What I find amusing though is that often when people are with like-minded people they will discuss politics and society all day long… “Did you hear how Obama messed up today?” … “I can’t wait till we get a Republican in office” … “You can’t blame Obama, he’s fixing Bush’s mess.” But surely most people wouldn’t make these same comments in a larger social setting. In the one instance we are so proud of our views and want to be validated by the fact that our friends and peers agree; and in the other I think that we may be worried that if we are as bold as before and someone is able to refute our opinions, we somehow lose. Politics is a game, right? There must be winners and losers, people say.

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Something I always tell my students is that our society needs to learn to argue, in a sense. For instance, I’ve been watching the news every morning before work and I see on every network different opinions about how Obama should handle the “crisis” in Ukraine. Some want him to send in a military force to achieve “diplomacy,” I guess? While others want a more peaceful means of talking Putin down. (Ironic that both the aggressive and diplomatic sides to the debate agree that “something must be done.”) Some call Obama a “wimp” and say he needs to “man up.” But I am not talking about Obama or the Ukraine, it is about the fact that both sides to the debate are so entrenched in their opinion that to concede anything or to possibly even change their opinion after rational conversation is seen as something bad, as perhaps “flip-flopping” or “inconsistent.” What is the point of an argument? In my opinion an argument is had in an attempt to push one’s opinion or agenda. Some say that if both sides are passionately doing just that then neither will win or relinquish their viewpoint. But I disagree. Philosophically and ideologically I am where I am today because people have changed my mind about things. I am passionate for this new cause of liberty because a friend of mine was persistent in logically pointing out the inconsistency and fallacious thinking of my former views. And for that I am grateful. 

So why can’t we talk politics? Why can’t we debate and discuss and disagree and hammer out ideas? I think our society says “man up, stick to your guns, go down with the ship if you must.” But is this really the best environment we can foster when it comes to things that affect Americans every day? Should we be passionate about our convictions and beliefs? Sure. I am. But am I open to new ideas if I feel they logically and morally surpass my own? Of course. 

I am starting this blog (we’ll see if it pans out) because I want to put my ideas out there. I want people to disagree and challenge both my and their own ideas. Maybe some people will find that the idea of true liberty is captivating.

-KF

kollin.fields@gmail.com

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