It’s an age old tradition in etiquette; it’s impolite to discuss politics or religion. Two of our major difference defining opinions have been regarded as off limits to ensure happiness and tolerance.
This isn’t 1950.
The thing about these two subjects is that they define who we are on a large scale. Even worse, they are built upon the premise that one needs to have faith in their choice. Faith is believing something, regardless of truth.
Religion, long debated, forever fought over, and so different across the world, is usually our main divider. Loyalties to different divisions of the same religions divide people even further. The MAIN issue with discussing religion is that one can’t prove to another that their religion is right, because to believe in any given religion, you’re putting your faith in it. This faith, is exactly the same faith people put in their own religions. To battle faith with faith is impossible, as you are both believing in something because YOU choose to believe it. Not because there is any more proof for one than the other, but because you believe it.
But here is what is wrong with being divided by religion; They are not founded on definitive truth. These are philosophies written by mankind, for mankind. The human imagination is very broad and when supposedly divine occurences occur in one’s life, the mind can make up some pretty interesting stories to account for the occurence. Even go as far as to give those stories backstories. Then characters, time periods, further occurences leading up to this one, motivations behind the occurences, etc. We can write amazing fiction and label it as such, and we can also label it as fact.
Look at movies that claim to be based on true stories, based on actual events, inspired by either. Often times they’ve been nothing like the actual event or story. A Beautiful Mind completely fabricated the main character’s hallucinations. The Fourth Kind filmed its own “real footage”. Open Water started with the actual scuba divers that disappeared, then went on to be completely unfounded fiction.
Yet people eat this up. They don’t read the fine print, and this story has become FACT for them. An alternate reality is born, and they live in it. The same goes for religion. Mom and dad say its real, and they wouldn’t lie to you, would they? It turns out, the answer is “Not knowingly.”.
Politics are more maddening. Most people admit politicians are liars or at least will not tell the entire truth. But people rally behind their politicians. He’s the one they voted for, he’s their man! In many democracies, usually this dissolves into “He hasn’t been keeping his promises.” “What a liar, he lost my vote next time.” or “I wish he would do more.”.
The United States seems to have remedied this erosion of faith in any given party by splitting the opinion cleanly in two. You are either Republican, the right wing lovers of capitalism, personal liberty, privatization, and economy! Or you are a Democrat, the left wing lovers of environmentalism, the middle and lower class, social unity, and peace! There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.
Actually, there is, but it has become the abstain zone. You vote for a third party, which will never see a seat in the house, or choose not to vote. Either way, the right and left wing despise your kind. They also despise eachother, though, so don’t feel excluded.
My point is, people have their preferences, and they choose which side closest fits those preferences. Unfortunately, these politicians represent social interests the most right before being elected or re-elected. The campaign trail is where the people come first! I will eliminate ALL taxes and have riches for all! Security and freedom! War on those you hate and peace for those you like! We will shut down industry to save the environment and build more industry to boost the economy! Everyone will be happy!
And after the ballots come to rest on the floor and the last streamer is swept away, its always business as usual. Those promises become reserved ideas in case good publicity is needed later. Your hero ascends to the throne, or walks sadly off the platform, and neither one talks to you again.
You believed them. You thought they would save the country. Surely, they would put all those tax dollars right back in your pocket. But they didn’t, and they won’t.
And as the clouds roll over the abandoned political rally stands, the people sigh, pick up their suitcases, their wrenches, their shovels, and trudge off to work. They still believe in those guys. The winning half is breathing a little easier. After all, he’s better than the other guy, right? HE was definitely evil and incompetent! So this guy was probably the right choice. The other half grumble and say with knowing sneers “It’ll all fall apart, you know. Just wait. And if it doesn’t, it’ll be so bad that OUR guy will win next time!”.
Then the first drops of rain begin to soak into discarded banners. No thunder. No theatrics for this conclusion. Just soft rain and dark clouds. A few haven’t left the area yet. They stand, staring at the sky. They think to themselves, “Why? Why do we put so much hope in these men?” Their faith has been dwindling for years and years. A disappointing administration followed by an exciting election followed by more disappointment.
The truth is, people, these men are the best at what they do. And what they do, is get themselves elected.
They don’t balance the books, they don’t design the bridges, they don’t build the hospitals and schools.
They don’t know how to fix an overloaded sewer system or how much money you need to run a town.
They’ve never chosen what crops to seed in a given year or tried to feed and shelter an entire downtown’s worth of homeless people on less than a month’s worth of minimum wage.
They haven’t seen a neighbourhood go from prime real estate to dilapitated slums over the course of a lifetime and know WHY it happened.
They can’t make the decisions that run a country, but they can change who makes them, and how they are made. They hold the strings, but are never quite sure which one to pull or who tied which string where.
I’m sorry for rambling, but this should paint the bleak picture for you. Two belief systems, two unreliable concepts. We are allowed to think for ourselves. Some of us should really try it.
And, for the good of all mankind, talk to eachother about it.