There are many things that are great to talk about at dinner parties and family gatherings; you can talk about your job, your friends, places you've been, the possibilities are endless. But there is one thing everyone always says never to talk about in mixed company: Politics.
Why should we not discuss Politics? Is it because your outspoken Uncle will go on another tirade? It is because you hold different views than your family? Probably all of the above. But what does it mean that this topic is so contentious that we avoid it at all costs?
Politics nowadays is seen as a dividing force. Your political beliefs are seen as something that can drive a wedge between a relationship. This is mainly because we don't know how to talk about politics without getting heated. The lack of civic discourse in America is showing us that we are not trying to understand each other. Instead, we are fighting with each other, writing angry Facebook posts, and refusing to talk about either the elephant or the donkey in the room.
We as a nation cannot move forward to improve our country if the people won't even talk to each other. America is very divided right now because we live in a world that says that it is okay to avoid difficult things in life. Our society says that it is okay to live in your own bubble. It's time for us to pop those bubbles and start trying to bridge the gap between people.
The first way to start talking about issues is to understand your intent in the discussion. When engaged in a discussion about politics, your goal shouldn't be to prove that you're right and the other person is wrong. Your goal should always be to try and understand the other person's beliefs and background supporting their beliefs.
The second thing to know is that it's okay to disagree. It is okay for you to not agree with everyone that you meet. Disagreement doesn't mean that you have to throw punches and it doesn't mean that you have to engage in debate. All disagreement means is that two people have two different viewpoints. If a disagreement on political matters costs a friendship, then it is not a friendship worth saving. Everyone has different beliefs. Some people like coffee and some people like tea. Does that mean that someone who likes coffee should never be friends with someone who likes tea? Of course not! If someone said they wouldn't be friends with you because you like tea, you would think they were strange. Why should politics be any different?
Everyone, no matter what side of the aisle you're on, wants what's best for our country. Each side has different beliefs in how to achieve progress, and each side has different beliefs on what issues need more focus, but at the end of the day, all that matters is that we are all Americans, we are all humans, and we are all individuals who should seek to understand other people and perspectives.