posted on November 12, 2012 09:50
It is said that one is better off avoiding the discussion of sex, religion and politics in certain environments.
Sounds like a pretty shitty office party to me.
Personally, I like to hit on these subjects as often as possible. Sometimes I like to see if I can generate a spirited debate involving all three at once. Often times I am "successful" in this and find myself offending and/or alienating friends, family and strangers alike. Obviously, this is not ideal, but I accept it. Still, it leaves me to wonder when, and perhaps more importantly how we all became so damn sensitive.
God forbid you suggest Christianity be removed as a staple of American democracy to a patron of the church. For shame you would boycott a fast food chain, or support it for that matter, for their position on gay marriage. And any philosophy advocating the distribution of any portion of our nation's unmatched wealth with those less fortunate…well, that's just socialism, bro. And you should be probably be lynched for suggesting it.
Of course, these all pale in comparison to the unfalteringly consistent and utterly useless pseudo-replies from those "exhausted" with the self-expression of others via social media.
You know what I'm talking about...
"OMG. I'm so sick of people commenting/tweeting about (insert subject). Enough already."
"I really wish I knew your opinion on (insert subject), said no one ever."
Perfect. Tip of the cap for putting the "wit" in "Twitter". Rather than engage in in-depth conversation or simply ignore it in favor of a more productive activity, you hit others with unsolicited mockery, denying us of what I am sure is an immense wealth of knowledge on the topic.
How long did we tolerate your Farmville obsession again?
The reality is that our individual position, no matter how powerfully we may feel about it, is far less important than how we react to those who feel differently. Furthermore, the intolerance of the opinions of others does nothing but more deeply entrench our adversaries in their cause.
The real issue here is that many citizens within our great nation shine soft, insecure, uneducated, highly-impressionable and hyper-sensitive when controversial subjects are broached. The ease with which we are able to access information and the interconnectedness created through modern methods of communication, both of which should bring us closer and towards a greater collective empathy have, regrettably, amplified our collective ignorance. People without knowledge or the conviction required for debate yearn to disagree, to validate their position and identity and often end up the loudest voices of all. Meanwhile, those better equipped to articulate their point lose interest in drawing with crayon.
Look, I get it. Many of us are passionate about our beliefs and the masturbation of one's ego does indeed feel good. But passion not preceded with investigation and an open mind is not passion at all. Your so-called argument becomes nothing but loud, regurgitated hype. You become the Flava Flav of political discourse. That is, if Flava Flav were both surrounded and preceded by a thousand other Flava Flavs. Deep down (actually, probably not that far beneath the surface at all) we know this and we feel guilt, which makes us quick to become defensive and overly sensitive. Especially online. We morph into cyber pussies shrouded in a translucent layer of internet tough-guy and inevitably reveal our inner idiots. We become "Pussidiocrats", if you will.
Those of us secure and intelligent enough to engage in actual intellectual confrontation are tired of it.
In no way do I claim to be South City's James Carville. As a matter of fact, I am pretty green to the world of politics. But I enjoy a good mental dust-up as much as anyone I know and as long as your expression of your beliefs does not impact me in some extremely personal way, I am not going to take it personally…or even that seriously. I will take it into consideration, however, because I care more about having the greatest possible understanding than I do instant and fleeting ego-gratification. What I have noticed is that when many seemingly intelligent sparing partners become frustrated or painted into a corner, they just get mad and defensive and the discussion becomes more juvenile than it should. I've been guilty of this myself. I imagine we all have.
Example: I recently stated in a Facebook post that if you are voting Republican solely because Mommy and Daddy voted Republican, then you are an idiot who, for the greater good should probably not vote at all. I also offered that the only reason the statement was directed at Republicans was that they were the only ones I had literally heard this offered up as a reason for voting the party. One response I received from a friend said that it was in fact I who was the idiot for suggesting that anyone not vote at all.
Rock the Vote. Fine. Whatevs.
A feed manifested and I apparently struck a nerve with some individuals who were probably less informed than they would like to be. In fairness, aren't we all less informed than we would like to be? I know I am. Which is why I try to remain openminded. The fact that not one Republican friend agreed with me seemed odd. The conversation eventually took a turn towards my abhorrence of religion in government and things got even more ridiculous. Next thing I know I am being told that I hate God and those who believe in a god.
All this stemming from an opinion…a statement suggesting that uneducated voters not vote.
I can only assume that whomever the individual was that stated sex, religion and politics should remain taboo had a wisdom that I do not possess. He or she clearly understood that most individuals are too insecure for debate. He or she probably also identified it as a waste of their time. This column itself…probably also a waste of time.
But I can't resist. I love all things polarizing because I believe they offer the most efficient path towards personal and communal growth.
Which is why those of us with the balls and the brains to drop educated knowledge must continue to be more vocal than those who have nothing but high-speed internet access…aka the Pussidocrats.
But I'll acknowledge that there should be some guidelines. If we're all guilty of the same egomaniacal shortcomings to one degree or another, it is in our best interest to have some guidelines.
So, in the spirit of sacred unmentionables, I give you the 10 Commandments of Political Discussion and Debate.
1. Thou Shall Have No Higher Purpose Than The Truth. There is a fine line between being steadfast in your belief(s) and being shamelessly loyal to your own narrow-minded dogma. An open mind is a sign of integrity and when changed is not necessarily a declaration of defeat. It is merely the opportunity to more closely align yourself with the truth, which should outweigh your ego's need to be "right".
2. Thou Shall Not Make For Yourself A Carved Believe System. At least not one of stone. It should be more like a bar of soap. Residing in any one set of beliefs by default is not only foolish but boring. Contrary to religious figureheads, there is no singular formula for ethical perfection, and even the most fixed items in the natural world are changing before our eyes. To quote a favorite Buddhist proverb, "The bamboo which bends is stronger than the oak which resists."
3. Thou Shall Not Make Ignorant Ass Arguments In Vain. I also recently posted an image that listed some of the retarded shit GOP reps have recently said in regards to rape. I posted it without comment for the most part…kind of felt the quotes spoke for themselves. But at least one person had the audacity to suggest they were being taken out of context and that it was just more Democrat propaganda designed to pick up sympathy votes. After all, who do rape victims think they are, wanting sympathy and crap?
Regardless of which direction you lean, sometimes your guy just fucks up. Own it and move on if you see it fit to do so, but some shit is indefensible. That a female body has magic ways to shut down reproduction in the event of rape-induced pregnancy for example is clearly beyond ignorant; it's horrifying. It is an example of an instance where you have no choice but to acknowledge your guy is a moron. At least in regards to the matter at hand.
4. Remember The Present Day, To Keep It Holy. Things that held true for you in the past may not hold true for you in the future. To assume that your position is not subject to change is self-defeating and the worst kind of arrogance. I will most likely continue to be socially liberal. Though as I get older and hopefully continue to accumulate wealth, maybe I'll become more fiscally conservative…who knows? But pigeonholing your beliefs only leads to a more lengthy maturation process.
5. Honor Your Mother And Your Father But Make Up Your Own Mind. You did not choose to whom you were born. And you will most certainly take much of your upbringing into adulthood, for better or worse. But challenge your indoctrination from time to time. Hopefully, your parents gave you a solid foundation. But more importantly, they hopefully gave you the confidence to figure a few things out on your own. My parents made plenty of mistakes, but I can tell you one thing: they didn't raise a doormat.
6. Thou Shall Not Murder A Dead Horse. It is a blessing and a curse that we exist in an era that it is so easy to blast our position all over the social landscape like bukkake. Don't beat a dead horse. Especially if it is clear that you have won the argument. If you know you have won the argument and your opponent is still fighting the good fight, you weren't going to convince them anyway. At a certain point, let it go.
7. Thou Shall Not Commit Argument Adultery. I doubt I am the only one who has watched as someone adjusted their beliefs to better fit the company they kept. And double-shame on you if you stood witness to it and said nothing. This makes you as much of a little bitch as them.
8. Thou Shall Not Steal The Beliefs And Arguments Of Others And Use Them As Your Own. Draw from the input of others, obviously, but formulate an opinion of your own based upon your experience and the most updated facts you can uncover. There is more information available to you than ever before in human history. Use it or stick to the topics you know.
9. Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness Against…well, anything. Or anyone. In my own naivety I often forget about dishonesty. I suppose that because being forthright comes so naturally to me it often slips my mind that someone might make shit up just to win an argument. Lying, at least about most things, baffles me. For some people I think it may truly be a mental illness. Avoid mental illness when possible.
10. Thou Shall Not Covet Donkeys And Elephants. People just love to adopt an identity. They fucking love it. It helps them to forget the parts of themselves that they hate, at least temporarily. Or until a more appealing identity becomes available. Is there a more effective way to cloud one's judgment than to endorse a group's beliefs in their generalized entirety? Do I lean to the left? Absolutely. I also endorse the right to bear arms, as well as the notion those receiving welfare aid should be drug-tested. Want to have a discussion about a direction our homeland should take? Cool. Using a political party to define yourself? Wack.
Which brings us to the Golden Rule of talking politics: The moment you discover a conversation has less to do with the subject than the person debating it, walk away.
Even if that person is you.
J. Adams is a certified personal trainer and philosopher and the columnist responsible for this here ManHole. Follow him on the twitter via @Intangiball and feel free to love or hate him in the comments below.