“I never talk about politics or religion. They just make people angry.” This is a statement I have heard often, usually while trying to discuss deeper issues with people.
In a way, the statement is true. Politics and religion are two controversial subjects that have a tendency to infuriate people. We can all remember witnessing or participating in one of those “Facebook debates” in which people descend to name-calling or profanity. The result of this is that these debates rarely, if ever, result with someone changing their mind.
If talking about politics makes people so angry, then shouldn’t we avoid it at all costs? It certainly is the practice that many follow. However, I argue that we should choose to embrace political discussions. Instead of running from controversy, we should allow it to challenge us and encourage our critical thinking. If you cannot defend the rationale behind your political beliefs, you need to re-examine them.
The study of politics is not an abstract, theoretical subject. Poor policy can hurt families, businesses, organizations, and individuals. We have a duty to debate the ideas put before us in the hope of choosing leaders that will accurately represent us and the interests of our society. Talking about politics can not be about “winning” or “being right” at all costs – it should be about finding the best possible way to structure our government and promote prosperity.
Throughout the year, I will be writing a political column for the Lariat. I am not a political science major, but I spend a considerable amount of time researching current issues. I deeply believe that these discussions are important. My goal is to challenge your thinking this year, giving you every opportunity to take advantage of your college education.
That being said, while taking sides in these issues, respect should always be at the forefront of our arguments. This quote by Thomas Jefferson says it best:
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
A variation of this article was originally published in the Baylor Lariat on 8/28/12.