There is an old saying that you may have heard in one form or another which basically says “don’t talk about Religion or Politics”. You may see this as a notice at pubs and bars or have been discouraged from discussing these topics at at parties and get togethers. Politics and religion, as we can easily demonstrate from history, are very divisive subjects and have been the start of many a national conflict and war, not to mention countless broken families and friendships.
Why? When people discuss either Religion or Politics the views and attitudes of those involved becomes polarised, I accept that this is a generalisation but I do not believe that this is a gross over-generalisation. We have seen this here in the UK both pre and post the Brexit vote. Families have been divided and friendships have been broken due to the polarisation that occurs when we start to talk openly about our views. This has been demonstrated right at the top of our political tree with the break in relations between the former Prime Minister David Cameron and his long term friend Michael Gove. It has been widely reported that they have not spoken since the Brexit vote due to them campaigning on different sides of the Brexit argument.
Similarly the US Presidential election has been very polarising, Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Christian Right, Christian Left; they all have their standpoints and judging by what I currently see on Social Media there is very little common ground between the differing sides and very little chance of bridges being built. There is intransigence and unwillingness to see the others point of view and engage in constructive discussion.
The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress (Joseph Joubert 1754-1824) That is the problem with us though, when we engage in discussion invariably we want to win, we want our viewpoint to be recognised as the superior one, or the right one, or the one with the most credibility. We want “Victory”, even when it is family or friends. Is it any wonder that there is so much division in society today, so much misunderstanding of the other. Discussion leads to argument leads to fighting leads to war. Why can’t we have discusion leads to understanding leads to respect leads to co-operation.
Going back to where we started, Religion and Politics, whatever your flavour or persuasion these are things that can change the world, these are things that matter, things that we need to talk about. We should not be afraid to talk about them but if we do then we should do so with the aim of progress not victory.
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