“The two things you don’t talk about are religion and politics.” I’m sure you’ve heard this statement before, because everyone has. We’ve been told, from a young age, that this is a way to not upset people or cause unrest. This is one of the biggest mistakes that we have made and has lead to us being in one of the most divisive times in American history.
From the age of 8 I was enthralled with politics. Watching the news with my parents when I got home from school was one of my favorite past times. Everyday I would go back to school and talk about it with all my friends. None of them had any idea what I was talking about because we were 8. One day, a few years later, a teacher over heard me and informed my parents. At this point I was told the infamous line “the two things you don’t talk about are religion and politics.” From there my interest in the subject really started dying down.
In my early twenties I started gaining interest again. At this age, as very few can say, I still maintained my conservative philosophy. The biggest issues I had, at that point, was that I found that I was not able to really articulate what I believed or, more importantly, why I had those beliefs. Because everyone is persuaded against talking about politics, people are never really challenged on their beliefs or forced to socratically think through their beliefs. This leads to people not truly knowing what they believe and not having a logically consistent belief system. For instance, I was a small government conservative but thought gay marriage should be illegal. It wasn’t until I actually started having these conversations with people, and more importantly with people that do not agree with me, that I was able to truly draw logical consistencies that has lead me to the conservative/libertarian philosophies I have today.
Another significantly damaging result of not having political conversations is that people end up in self fulfilling echo chambers. The only opinion people hear are ones they agree with. Social media does not help with this. Social media algorithms are designed to create these echo chambers. They track your cookies to see what sites you go to and then only show you what you want to see. Because we don’t have these conversations with those we disagree with, we don’t allow them to rationalize their opinion or state why they feel that way so we assign ill intent to those opinions we disagree with. This happens on both sides of the aisle. This is what leads to people being called bigots, racists or sexists when they actually are none of those things. We cannot assume someone’s intent to their opinion but allow them to elaborate on the reasoning for their beliefs.
With the country being so divided and so political we need to start having these conversations, and having them at younger ages so that we can fully rationalize what we believe and adjust our beliefs if need be. This is how we are going to have a less divisive country.