“I digress.” — How To Talk Politics

Stay composed. 

This is not the proper place to argue.

Politics is not a good conversation starter. 

Not here.

Not now, at least.

I’d avoid bringing up the election in public.

Someone might get offended.

Bring your voice down to a whisper.

Teachers aren’t supposed to say such things.

Don’t ask your uncle who he’s voting for—it might be Trump.

Just…

…don’t even mention it.

Mr. R loves history. Loves discussing it. He loves politics. Loves discussing it. But what is his one fault? His greatest, undoing attribute?

He loves, just loves…to digress.

After the U.S. election, kids came to school crying. A girl sitting a few seats ahead of me had mascara smeared across her cheeks. I’m sure we’re all familiar with Mr. Trump, and I’m sure we’re all familiar with the fact that sobbing people were to be expected on that fateful day. School was dismal. Even the clouds were packed across the sky with shadows.

Every class was a drag. Another sniffling kid. Some huffy teachers. Everyone was emotional. No one was talking. That is, until Mr. R’s class rolled around.

“So. Who here is happy that Trump got elected?”

Our class sat silent. No hands were raised.

“Who isn’t happy that Trump was elected?”

All twenty hands in the room crept hesitatingly into the air. Mr. R took in a long breath. His face was twisting red. We all knew what was coming.

Stay composed.

Here began the forty-minute political rant from our beloved history teacher, a jolly little Italian man who wore striped sweaters and rosy cheeks to work five days a week. He was intimidating, now. We froze before him, too shocked to say a word.

This is not the proper place to argue.

In school? I didn’t think it would happen. 

Teachers aren’t supposed to say such things.

According to who? He obviously didn’t care about the rules. Trump seemed to break every law of presidential etiquette, according to Mr. R. Quite frankly, we didn’t care, either. It was invigorating to hear our teacher rant. It was something fresh. We’d kept it bottled in long enough.

After a good thirty minutes of his organized spiel, Mr. R stood before us. A long pause. “Anyway,” he said, slowly scanning the sea of wide-eyed faces. “I digress.”

Did I learn a lesson that day? Yes.

Say something.

Don’t keep it in. Don’t shy away from a political discussion because the atmosphere isn’t right, or you think a person in your group is a Libertarian. If your whole family is made up of Hillary fans, and you’re leaning towards the more conservative, don’t shy away when your sister sparks a debate over dinner.

Stand by your beliefs—and talk about them. This is not just about the presidential election. This applies to religion, philosophy, literature, education, industry—you name it. Before we take action, before we lash out in anger, let’s use our words.

Be open-minded. Listen to others. Learn from them. People have their reasons, they really do. And you have your’s. So, don’t hide your opinions. Share them, toss them out into the open to be praised, to be criticized, and appreciated.

It fills me with disgust when my family members refer to Republicans with a sneer. “I feel a bit holier, having voted for Hillary,” my grandmother told me recently. I had to bite back a laugh.

Let’s stop with this egotistic mindset. Let’s view each other as people, first, not members of any political party. We are not followers, we are individuals with our own opinions. Don’t shun that Trump supporter who lives down the street. Invite him over for lunch, break it down with him, nice and sweet. Let your voice be heard. And then listen, think, then process, in return.

See that list of rules above? Yeah. Don’t follow that. People will tell you to quiet down, say that someone will feel uneasy, that this is not a dinner-time discussion. Be respectful, be courteous. But don’t shut your mouth.

Let’s all learn to digress a little bit more. Small talk can shield your racing thoughts for a hundred years, but if you feel there’s something more to be said—just say it. Listening to the debate flashing across your screen can rile you, but a thorough conversation with a stranger will enlighten you.

It’ll be risky, of course. People will get offended. Someone always will. But you cannot let that fact keep you from expressing your opinions. Let’s talk politics, and not feel restrained. Every interaction is an opportunity for learning, and you can choose to miss these opportunities—or not.

There are wise words waiting within us all. If the chance to unleash them comes, don’t back away. Take the risk. Digression is not just an excuse—it is a tool. Take advantage of it. Listen, and express. Judgment without discussion will lead us nowhere.

“If you’re not careful,” Mr. R once said, “you’ll learn something new every day. That is for certain.”

So, don’t be cautious with your knowledge. Do not be afraid.

Listen, learn, and share with us all.

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13 thoughts on ““I digress.” — How To Talk Politics

  1. Haha! I used that exact phrase in the intro to the last thing I wrote: “I digress”. As someone with with attention issues I find this phrase is always on my tongue. I struggle to stop digressing when it comes to things I’m passionate about though (one of those being holding peoples feet to the fire when they argue using inaccuracies or contradictions).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pointing out inaccuracies is actually a very helpful and rewarding thing to do on both ends. I always appreciate it when someone clarifies something that I’ve said wrong (as long as they’re being courteous!).

      Like

  2. Very nice post. Maybe try not to talk about parties or candidates anymore. Discuss what changes you want to see in your country. This way, nobody gets offended and everybody gets to say how they ACTUALLY feel and not what they have been propagated to say, We have the same stupid problem in Canada. People talk and rant about PEOPLE — candidates and parties — and not about actually policy or issues…. But i digress 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • At first, when you said don’t talk about parties and candidates you got my hackles up! But I totally agree, we should talk about policy and issues. However, if you are being outspoken on policy and issues your political bent (party-wise and people-wise) may become evident regardless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think when parties and names start coming up in conversation, that is the best opportunity to talk about ideologies… in my opinion none of the big parties –like liberal or conservative in canada, or democrat and republican in the us– are either liberal or conservative period, ao why talk about them.

        they are both just center parties on the spectrum. So instead of arguing about the parties that aren’t even doing anything which you want them to do, then we should talk about what we want done… THEN after that debate, then look for a smaller party (green, or whatever) that’s already trying to do it, or start your own party to start pushing those policy changes…

        And regarding your later reply about the I digress, I lterally said it at the end just to bug you, hehe that’s why I winked at the end 😉 aha.

        Liked by 2 people

        • “…after that debate, then look for a smaller party (green, or whatever) that’s already trying to do it, or start your own party to start pushing those policy changes…”

          Love this statement. Smaller parties, while having little to no chance of being elected, have deviant ideas worth looking into!

          Liked by 1 person

        • yes definitely. but more so, because smaller parties are already formed organizations, it takes a lot of work to form your own party and to start getting people to contribute. The best way would be to run for leadership in a smaller party and then transform it into what you want it to be… 😉

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this wonderful comment!

      That’s a good idea. Truth be told I wrote this in the midst of all the controversy leading up to our new president’s election, so that was what inspired me to write this post. And you are spot on—we cannot change others, so ranting about people whom you cannot change will not reap change in the world around us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, 2020 is not that far away! So keep up the passion!

        I try my hardest not to point fingers at any one to blame. I’ve learned this from economic professors…

        It’s all of us who are allowing this all to happen so all of us are guilty. The workers, the businessmen, the politicians, the atheists, the religious — they’re all doing they’re own individual part, doing what the system allows them to do based on their random lottery of birth, so we cannot blame any one. We all want to live!

        We journalists just need to expose the situations that the corporations are avoiding so people can start to act for themselves, and not be told what is happening — which is what mainstream (non-independent) media does now.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “We all want to live!”
          Indeed!

          “We journalists just need to expose the situations . . . so people can start to act for themselves…”
          Yes, I like to think that our words are little revolts in of themselves. As one of my favorite quotes goes, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

          Like

  3. Pingback: “I digress.” — How To Talk Politics | Where Come Too You Keys King Dumb

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