Sunday, November 17, 2013

Discussing Politics

Debating politics is always a tricky subject. It's one of those topics you don't bring up at the dinner table or talk about in polite company.

That taboo quality is what makes it so fun, though. It makes me want to talk about it more. At the same time, politics is incredibly interesting because of how challenging it is. Talking about politics is intellectually stimulating and interesting. So it has a lot of appeal. This is especially the case when the other person has opposite views as it can always help you understand their views as well.

This does have one caveat: the person has to be a somewhat intelligent, reasonable individual. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and a painful endeavor. This means a person who won't call you names or invoke Godwin's law. Those people are incredibly hard to find. Indeed, so many people seem to take politics personally and can't seem to separate their emotions from their logic.

So when you do find someone to really talk to, it's the most amazing feeling ever. And it makes it so much richer to talk about. When you find someone intelligent to talk to, that's when the intellectual stimulation comes in.

It's often pointless to try to "debate" someone. It's doubtful that you'll change the person's mind. Still, while it might be doubtful you can change someone's point of view, but sometimes it can help you understand it. Just because the two of you disagree, it doesn't mean that the other person is wrong or stupid. Sometimes, there are multiple truths and multiple possibilities. You can be two very smart people with different opinions. Of course, this person can also be a smart person with a dumb opinion but usually, that's not the case. Just "agreeing to disagree" is dumb and insipid and avoids the issue; instead, it's better just to talk about what you think in a civil way.

And sometimes, it does help to change your point of view, at least slowly. When you talk to someone about politics, you have to really think about the particulars of how you think and how it does (or doesn't make sense). Sometimes, you realize that maybe what you thought wasn't as great as you thought it was because you lacked perspective or a key point of information. That's why it's important to come into such things with an open mind. Not so open you'll accept anything as fact, but open enough that you'll consider what other people say. If you refuse to do that, you won't learn anything.

It's also important to think critically. Not just regurgitate what your parents and grandparents think or what the news stations say, but to actually think. To do this, you must think about what things mean and what the sources are saying and not saying as well as recognizing the bias in them.

Ultimately, when you agree to talk about politics, there should be a basic criteria you should follow. It's not for everyone because not everyone can do it. Still, it doesn't change the fact that we definitely need people that can.

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