I have an opinion. I have lots of them. Just like I have a lot of passions and dislikes and feelings and hairs on my head. There are certain things I just don’t discuss, though, like politics and religion.
I am 33 years old. I not only have a formal education but also knowledge gained through experiences and that which I sought out because of my interests. I consider myself to be above-average intelligence. I have a husband, children, parents, family, in-laws, a priest, friends, a routine, books, access to the Internet, and so on and so forth.
What I am saying is I am an individual capable of original thought. I am smart and have varied interests.
What I have learned in 33 years is that most people can say what I’ve just stated, or some variation of it. Therefore, we all have our childhoods lived, our opinions formed. Barring crises of faith, most of us aren’t interested in hearing others’ opinions to HAVE OURS SWAYED.
Think About It
Really, now, when was the last time you engaged in a conversation in order to have someone else TELL YOU HOW TO THINK OR FEEL?
I cannot fathom why another adult would think I need him to tell me what to believe. If he disagrees with the way I believe tax dollars ought to be spent, I am not really open to him telling me I AM WRONG and that I SHOULD believe otherwise. If she doesn’t think my religion is THE RIGHT ONE, I do not want her to tell me I AM WRONG and that I SHOULD follow a different religion, or that there even is a “right” one.
Seriously, people: wars are started over this stuff.
So why on earth would I want to ARGUE WITH FRIENDS about it?
I guess I’d rather have friends.
Difference of Opinion
I believe that having a friend or family member with a different opinion or viewpoint is quite healthy SO LONG AS we continue to BE ADULTS and agree to disagree.
Shouting at me that I need to think differently because the Constitution says thus or snidely remarking under your breath that my faith is misplaced because the news has sensationalized the Catholic priests who have done wrong IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE MY OPINION or my beliefs.
No, really. Think on it. A difference of opinion is quite healthy and normal; what is neither healthy or normal is attacking another for it.
I respect that your faith is different than mine. I respect that you have feelings about how this country should be run. I respect that you are an adult, that you are capable of independent thought, and that you and I are not exactly alike. In fact, I prefer that; that’s probably why I am friends with you. I respect all persons for all their differences, whether it be choices of religion or choices of diet or even things that are not choices, like skin color and the demographic in which you were born.
Please respect me in return.
Love and Friendship
I personally feel that discussions regarding religion and politics ought to be kept as such: discussions. I want to talk about my feelings (yes, that’s a biggie in my generation) without being concerned of who will be offended or will try to sway my judgements.
But I can’t. I cannot talk to certain friends or family members regarding politics because it is never just a discussion, a comparison, an enlightenment. With certain people, it becomes a battle. They are so set in their opinion and so passionate about what they know and feel that they can only see the point of the conversation as conversion.
They want to convert me to their way of thinking.
How is that either friendship or based in love? How is believing my opinions are WRONG any sort of open and honest relationship? How is thinking I MUST CHANGE for you healthy for either of us?*
Well, Maybe I Would Talk Politics and Religion
If you truly want to know what way I’ll vote in November or why I’ve chosen which church I frequent on Sundays, please ask. I’d love to discuss my faith and feelings WITH OPEN-MINDED ADULTS. Maybe you have some input or insight. Maybe you’re looking for input or insight. Maybe we will both learn something, like that our differences have common ground. Or that we don’t see eye-to-eye but can respect that. Or that we have no differences at all and now have someone to openly talk to.
If you just want to attack me, prove me wrong, change my view, shatter my faith, have an argument, or whatever… if you have an agenda, please don’t ask. Please don’t start that. Please don’t pick a fight with me if you truly consider me a friend or loved one.
That is neither nice nor respectful.
And you won’t “win.”
Never in all of my years have I ever thought, “Yes, you’re right. I’m an ignorant idiot who has been WRONG ALL THIS TIME. Thank goodness you and your aggressive approach to our differences have CHANGED ME into what you want. I’m so glad you’ve usurped my autonomy. Thank God you had an agenda. Gracious, you’re a good friend.”
Nope, never thought that. And if I said it, you heard my thickest sarcasm. Good for you!
I do not feel threatened by your political viewpoints. I do not feel threatened by your religion or your faith-based choices. I do not feel threatened by your gender, your sexuality, or how you’ve chosen to present yourself to the world. I do not feel it is my place to dictate how you live your life, so long as your choices do not cause harm to those I love or myself.
Now, if we could all agree to that, and we could all have thoughtful discussions about our beliefs, viewpoints, knowledge, and differences, there wouldn’t be so many problems in the world. But I can’t control the world. I can merely control what I choose to discuss and with whom I discuss those topics.
If you are out to attack my beliefs or change my opinions, I am not going to talk to you about politics or religion. If you are curious and want to learn, please know that I am curious and want to learn. But that I am not interested in a sales pitch. I will not further your agenda.
And I certainly don’t want anyone telling me I’M WRONG.
*I apologize for those split infinitives. If you heard me say these out loud, you would understand by vocal inflection how I’m trying to pose these rhetorical questions. As it is, you’ll just have to muddle through reading those. Sorry.