Wednesday, June 11, 2008

apolitical

I've been told...er...more than once that maybe I talk a little too much about politics and some people find it, uh, offputting. I try to be inclusive and openminded, but I guess sometimes my enthusiasm for certain topics comes across as haranguing and partisan. Oops.

So I've tried to stay mainly on neutral topics here, mostly because I know that this is a more conservative area, traditionally. Also I had several family members tell me to knock it off with the politics. Grandma even went so far as to suggest that this may be the reason why I'm not married yet, although I say, if he doesn't like Barack Obama then he's not getting a second date. Anyway, I try to stick to safe topics. But I was forcefully reminded yesterday that even "safe" topics are dynamite in the right setting.

Several of us were chatting about Harry Potter on our break. Okay, I was shouting happily about how I went to Platform 9 3/4 before there even was a Platform 9 3/4! I turned to another colleage and asked if she'd read the books, anticipating either a "yes" or an eye-roll and a "no." Instead I got a polite, "Oh no, I would never, it's the occult." Which brought me to a stop dead in my tracks. Thoughts bubbled up--"But, but, but---!" Convincing arguments, logical reasonings, all sped through my brain. I had read about people who believed that Harry was occultish, but never actually met someone who believed it. I know this person. She is a good person. We get along splendidly.

And we disagree totally, utterly, on the awesomeness of HP.

And I have to be okay with that, because I'm never gonna convince her otherwise, am I? It's not like I can say "oh, just read the books" (which is how all of you fell for it, haha, suckers), because that won't happen. So--and be proud of me, faithful readers--for once in my life, I just shut up and accepted a difference of opinion.

But then later in the afternoon, a similiar situation happened. Granted, this one was slightly more political--another colleage and I were discussing Stephen Colbert's bid to become president in South Carolina and I said "the only reason the Democratic party took him off the ballot in that state was not because he wouldn't uphold the 'ideals and beliefs' of the party--they were genuinely scared that he would win the delegates! And then we would be in a worse situation than we're in now!"

At which point the woman who sits behind me turned around and said "You haven't offended me with anything you say, but I'd just like to tell you that there's two things we don't talk about here: religion and politics." I tried to explain that Stephen Colbert wasn't a "real" politician, but the conversation was effectively over. To me, I wasn't talking politics, I was just pointing out what everyone knew about a tv personality and his crazy attention-seeking media stunt. But to some people, that was too close to the line. So again, I shut up. Sometimes, I guess, respecting other people's opinions means not saying anything.

I want to engage in debate, but I guess sometimes I invite disparate opinions so I can harass them until they agree to my point of view. (see: every conversation I've had with Grandma since I was nineteen) I need to learn that "debating" means sometimes going away without winning. And that I can't just say I like America because we all have different opinions--I need to let those different opinions thrive. And flourish.

But not here on nickilovesdrama. That's why I have a blog after all, isn't it?

5 comments:

Samantha said...

That whole pc no religion or politics line is old. I'm slowly finding that the main reason people become defensive about political alliances and unable to participate in discussions (not debates, not name calling, not haranguing, or criticism but civilized logical discussions) is largely because they blindly follow their leaders and are unable to carry on a conversation. They don't actually know enough about their representatives or party alliances to defend their beliefs. Or are afraid that the counter argument might make sense. For a lot, sticking their heads in the sand is just safer. It gives their party freedom to do whatever without their supporters questioning them anyway. I mean, how can you honestly expect a representative to represent you if you're going to question what they represent?

Seriously...

Laura said...

There ARE no safe topics. Jeez. You want to talk about anything - it's going to lead to something political. I'm with you. I can't stand to have people impose limits on what I am and am not allowed to talk about. Like when Natalie imposed some BS "you're not allowed to talk about The Tick" rule in college and part of the reason I was so frustrated when i was in Mississippi - all that jumping down your throat for saying Happy Holidays crap. Start that with me, I don't care where and you're going to get some discussion. I'm sorry people are trying to limit what you can talk about. And I'm even more sorry your with people not open-minded enough to say That's the Occult? Really? Well let me read it and see if it challenges my beliefs! ...I guess that kind of thinking is hard for me to imagine.
But then again, I am Devour Forever!!!

tealracing16 said...

Interesting responses. As a person who works too close with colleagues I honestly can say I agree with her. yes all roads lead to that, but at some point you need to stop and think about what the big picture is. I almost walked out of my last job because some guy berated me in front of five people because I said Hillary would be awesome cause she scares the living daylights out of everyone. Boo fricken hoo. I am all for freedom of speech and everything but you can't be productive when your pissed (no you can't). I also challenge your point that if a boy doesn't like Obama he isn't datable. If you (underlined) can't have a logical discussion with him then maybe you are the person who can't stop. I know its harsh, but you are extremely passionate and yes I'll vote for the guy, but I don't agree with everything he says/does/stands for. everyone is entitled to their opinion but there is a place and time for it. Talk to the lady outside of work and be understanding. Maybe she grew up in Salem, or is a witch, or something. But most of all, relax, your living in Virginia, birthplace of the best country on earth. If you don't believe me ask French men, they're just jelous.

Have a su-perb (sic) weekend, the girls and I will be going to Bridgefest! Wish you were here:(

This note has been approved by Peter Lemery for something 2009

Nicki said...

I agree with y'all about how prohibiting topics is stupit...if you're certain of something, then you ought to be able to defend yourself, A. B. C. D. And other people ought to realise that just because you disagree, it is not impossible to get along. But it's hard not to feel attacked when someone says "oh yeah? Well I think this instead of agreeing with you."

I recall a conversation I had once about how gay people were encouraged to make friends before coming out--sort of "surprise! I'm your friend, but I'm gay, whaddaya think about THAT?!" and that seemed a little too ambushy. But then again--that doesn't really matter to me. If someone is really against homosexuality, then that fact could be a dealbreaker of friendship.

Similarly, I'm not afraid of having someone challenge my support of Barack Obama (I don't fall in with everything he's saying either, btw), but I have to work with these people every day. It's only going to get more tense as the election gets nearer...supporting a liberal candidate or the conservative one says a lot more about you than just who you're voting for, and sometimes that's just TMI for a job. I'd rather stay peaceful at work, and ambush people who I feel might be receptive afterward. :)

Jack Bunny said...

Good post. In regard to Harry Potter, I read an interesting book a year or two back which suggested that the Harry Potter works were "occult if that's how you view them, and NOT occult if you feel they are not." Although this sounds like a cop-out, it isn't. The real battle is in the mind. If you think something is bad and participate in it, then in your mind you condone the action. Does that make sense?

On the other topic - I feel strongly that I lean in the same political direction that you do, and I feel inclined to express my viewpoint on my blog. But I hesitate, for fear of offending someone. And then I ask myself "why?" It's MY blog. Shouldn't it express me? I enjoy your blog because you're an interesting person. (I've told you this before.)Sometimes I wonder not WHERE do you draw the line, but rather WHY draw it at all?

JB