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

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

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