You hear it less and less: people’s views on politics. No one needs to guess why. The very topic of politics has become so toxic, many simply avoid it to circumvent confrontations and heated arguments. You hear stories about people losing friends over political views, family members outright disassociating with blood over who voted for who, and the endless online threads that can seriously affect someone’s state of mind. It may not seem like it’s worth it. But it is.
It seems there are people who don’t want to have a discussion, they want to impose their opinions and views on others — even if it means breaking down those closest to them. When a discussion or “debate” becomes a shouting match of name-calling, juvenile over dramatics, the thing to remember is those who remain the calmest will always have the clearer mind. At the very least, not allowing your emotions dictate the level of rationale is probably the greatest challenge we all face no matter what topic triggers us. What one may perceive as perfectly rational, another may find offensive and verbally retaliate in response. It may or may not be justified, and it is rarely resolved in the the heat of the moment. Britannica illustrates rational and irrational responses in regards to emotions — especially anger. And really, anger is kind of the centerpiece of how political discussions become so toxic in the first place. As Britannica puts it, “Anger may have been a useful stimulus of aggression in prehistoric times, but it can be deleterious or generally dysfunctional in a modern urban environment.”
Enter the modern political landscape. Everyone has an opinion (a righteous one, mind you) and when it is challenged, dismissed or viewed as flawed, well, the anger meter sometimes has the tendency to shoot up into the red zone. Does this sound like you? Or does this sound like someone you know? Better yet, can you have a political discussion with someone who’s views are nowhere near what you subscribe to? If emotions run too high to control, perhaps it would be best to listen. I know it’s easy to say, but engaging someone when you are angry (even if it’s someone you care deeply about), the result could be an unfiltered (and irrational) deliberation of the destructive sort.
This doesn’t mean walk away and not talk about things. Perhaps the greater challenge would not be to halt the obscenities at the tip of your tongue, but rather breathe in deeply and contemplate your response. Make it a five second rule. Count five seconds before you respond to someone who is saying something offensive (in a political sense). If the discussion becomes more aggressive (and maybe even insulting), let the other person elaborate on why they believe their point of view is just. Perhaps instead of going with the “Well, what about…” and “But this other politician did…” go with “So you are saying yada-yada-yada. Ok, tell me how that is helping to unify us as a nation when there are people who don’t agree with that view.”
It may or may not work. When people become closed minded and have a rigid political viewpoint, it is impossible to defend their stance when a variable such as “what do you do with people who have a different opinion?” enters the arena of discussion. If someone has a political view that isn’t malleable, then the thing to keep in mind, it could be that the person themselves aren’t malleable. And this is why people need to continue talking politics with each other — even if it causes headaches and arguments. The more people evade one another on these topics, the more rigid people will become in those viewpoints. It’s what many refer to as “echo chambers” and “living in a bubble.” Pop those bubbles. Shatter the windows of those echo chambers. Do it.
If there is to be any hope this world will avoid global tyranny, the masses have to realize the only political consensus we need to come to is our personal spaces are sacred. The government has no place in our personal space. And if the government has no place in our personal space, neither does anyone else. Embrace each other’s differences: race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and YES political affiliations. Do it.