My least favorite topic is politics.
Politics have been prevalent in my life. I grew up in a politically active family.
I have always been proud of what my family accomplished and the manner in which they did so – and I always will be.
You must have very thick skin though.
I don’t think that I ever developed it. I can still remember feeling hurt when a friend told me at the tender age of five that his parents would never have voted for my loved one.
Perhaps that is what shaped me.
I am fascinated by politics. I enjoy learning about opinions that are different from mine. I enjoy studying politics and watching political events.
What I don’t enjoy is discussing politics in social settings. In my experience, tempers flare and passions are ignited.
I feel strongly about my beliefs. I am interested to hear yours, if you can share them in a calm and nonjudgmental manner. I promise that I can.
When I ask you a question about your beliefs, I genuinely want to learn why you feel that way. Don’t ask me about mine just to bait me and then argue.
If you aren’t open to learning, why bother discussing?
So, if you try to engage me on this topic, please understand why I do not participate. When I withdraw from you or leave the room during a heated discussion, please do not be offended or think that I am acquiescing or being weak. I have experienced the anger and hurt that comes from those conversations, and I choose to not participate.
While politics are important to me, friends, family and relationships are on a much higher plane. I do not invite people into my life based on their political beliefs.
The lack of civility is what really bothers me.
When did we lose the ability to respect each other’s opinions, especially when they are different from our own?
When did we lose sight of the beneficial aspects of having a country of differences?
When did we all get so much confidence in our own opinions that we know that we are right?
When did it become all about winning?
I am currently reading Profiles in Courage, the Pulitzer Prize winning book by John F. Kennedy.
JFK provides three quotations addressing the general public’s view of Congress:
“… [W]hat you hear in Congress is 99% tripe, ignorance and demagoguery and not to be relied upon ….”
“While I am reluctant to believe in the total depravity of the Senate, I place but little dependence on the honesty and truthfulness of a large portion of the Senators.”
“… [T]he confidence of the people is departing from us, owing to our unreasonable delays.”
The quotations were attributed to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
As I was reading these, a sense of relief flooded over me.
Lately I question if there are any politicians who try to do the right thing. I know that the one with whom I used to nap did.
It relieved me that there were the same concerns about politicians two hundred years ago and the system continued to function.
JFK proceeds to illustrate, and conclude, that this does not mean that there are no men (and women) of courage in Congress.
While at times the situation seems bleak, compromise no longer exists, once open minds seem to be closed, friends become enemies, families fight … I refuse to give up hope.
I know that there are courageous, ethical and kind people. I choose to believe that there are courageous, ethical and kind people in politics.
It helps to be reminded.