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There are two things in this world that are guaranteed to begin arguments and cause bruised feelings and egos when brought up in conversation.  No matter how open and non-judgemental the lines of communication are between to people, if their ideas and beliefs don’t line up on these topics any discussion will end badly.

I speak, of course, about politics and religion.

I generally try to avoid both topics as often as I am able here at the Jungle Gym.  When I do have a need to venture into one of these territories I either do so at a high level and oblique angle or it is for an issue that I feel so strongly about I feel it must be communicated.  And the Jungle Gym isn’t the only place I avoid the topics.  I rarely discuss them with anyone.  Friend, family, or otherwise. 

In other words, I censor myself.  And, I suspect, a large portion of you do the same.

It’s truly amazing to me that two subjects can cause such dismay and gnashing of teeth.  I suppose that they are so problematic because they are so important in our lives.  Politics encompasses the issues that involve the power of government or other entities over our lives.  Religion can be a deeply defining facet of our lives.  When things that have such a direct impact upon us are discussed, feathers are bound to be ruffled.

But, doesn’t the importance of these issues make calm, logical, and clear discussion and debate all the more important?  Isn’t it all the more crucial that we have open communication on these matters given their impact? 

The true problem is the investment we gives these issues in our emotional lives. 

I can understand this in the context of religion.  The experience of faith, regardless of its source or object, is a deeply personal one.  It is inevitable that such a deeply personal experience should have such strong emotional connections.  Thus, someone who we view as making an attack upon our faith is seen as making an attack upon our very soul in some cases. 

But, politics I’m not sure I get.  Politics are by their very nature public.  And, while everyone is going to have their deeply held political beliefs, the application of these beliefs in a political and legal forum is by definition a public act.  Governance and politics should be able to divest itself from emotion to a point.  There should be a clean, clear intellectualism to political discourse.  Emotional involvement is inevitable, to a degree, but it should be controllable for the betterment of public discourse.

Instead we, and yes it is all of us not one side or the other, fling venom and invective at one another.  We resort to underhanded tactics, slanderous speech, and outright falsehood to achieve our goals.  And the goal is always the same.  Power.

I can understand such heated argument in matters of the soul.  But, in many ways, we damn ourselves with the tools we use to pursue power.

Perhaps, it is time to life the taboos and begin frank, open discussion of all matters before we end up having those discussions with weapons in our hands and civil war raging around us.


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