Ages ago, my mother gave me some pretty clear advice as a teenager to never discuss, debate, or argue two things: Politics and Religion.
And of course like any strong-willed teen, I wanted to think she was wrong and got into my fair share of disagreements over these two topics. And in my youth, as is normal, I never had all the facts and often ended up feeling like the discussion turned into nothing more than a fight I was doomed to lose! As a result, I began keeping my mouth shut.
You see, I’ve never been much of a fighter..I grew up in a pretty violent household and will quickly withdraw if I smell a fight coming on. For years, I followed my mother’s sage advice sage and avoided sharing my ideas with others…except with people whom I knew would agree. Yet at the same time, I was drawn to the exploration of ideas and communication. In college I studied sociology, anthropology, psychology, literature and writing. What I loved most about my college days were the lively but curated discussions I encountered seeking a liberal arts degree! It was a safe place to explore and learn and share and so I focused on writing as a mouthpiece for my thoughts.
Still, my greatest fears in expressing my thoughts on either of these personal topics is being attacked by someone who “disagrees.” For me it feels like many people want so badly for their opinion to be right that they can’t wait to tell you that yours is wrong. In fact that kind of response feels like being told to shut up, keep quiet, seal your trap, etc.
But I think it’s really important to continue to discuss the important things, like how we live, love and make peace and plans with each other…how we make sense of who we are in the greater scheme of things. I’m going to be honest and admit that when it comes to speaking my mind, I tend to stay on the safe side…to keep it simple and personal. I want to walk the broader path of human-ness, kindness, compassion and joy, but aren’t all of those related to how we approach those two crazy topics of division? Where do we draw the line between human compassion and the institutions we use to ensure it?
I’m not sure…do I need to talk politics and religion to have a positive impact on the world? And if I did, I wonder what it would take for me to get brave enough to share it all? Even when I know that there will be a lot of people who will not respect or agree with what I think? Can I take being told to “shut up” and keep right on talking the talk and walking the walk?