I love talking politics! What I don't care for is how some people share their views. They only want to broadcast their message and not hear from anyone else, unless they agree with them. They basically say, "Let me force my political beliefs on you, without your consent, because I know the TRUTH." Is this happening to you on a daily basis, as well? I cannot scroll through my newsfeed without a hundred different memes and even more angry comments. With tempers flaring and friends feeds being unfollowed, what are we to do? Below are three truths about political beliefs that will bring you more understanding toward others’ viewpoints.
If you find yourself endlessly arguing in circles, some simple truths might create a shift in your mindset and your approach toward politics with friends.
1. You are not your political beliefs - People defend their political beliefs like they are defending their family or children. Your political beliefs don't have feelings, they just exists as concepts in your mind. They were thought up by people, like you, and we know people are prone to mistakes. Take a deep breath and repeat after me, "I could be wrong, I don't know everything, and that is ok." How do you feel? If that bothered you at all, perhaps you have a bit too much pride in your beliefs or you have not been paying attention to history. We exchange old beliefs for new ones every day. Some are kept and others discarded like a gum wrapper. "What about unchanging absolute truth!" Truth stands on its own two feet without your help or need to prove it to anyone. When we are honest with ourselves, we can see that this is the little ego inside screaming to feel important and right. If that was not the case, then a person could simply explain their views honestly and openly without getting angry or judgmental. Detach from your belief that you have cornered the market on what is right and true. Be open to hearing others political beliefs for what they are. Potentially flawed, just like yours.
2. We are all products of our environment - It is easy to cast judgement about someone else, but we don't know what it is like to be them. Do we have to walk a mile in their shoes? Nope! A little empathy and understanding can go a long way. We all have a unique history that shapes us. Do you think you might have different political beliefs if you would have grown up somewhere else, had different parents, mentors, teachers, and friends? To my knowledge, they have not found a genetic link to your political beliefs. We are products of our upbringing, experiences, and our parents. Do you share the same political party as your parents? You likely do. At an early age, they taught you how to think and what to think. That same thing has happen to everyone else. Some may choose to reevaluate those beliefs, but most of us are just running the programing handed to us. You don't have to agree with what they believe, but you can understand that they reached their beliefs the same way you reached yours. Don't judge them too harshly. Better still, ask them why they believe what they do and then truly listen.
3. Competing ideas create checks and balances - Most people would agree that government needs checks and balances to keep from running amuck. Your beliefs need checks and balances to keep you from being a single-minded person. Having exposure to ideas outside of your beliefs rounds off your edges. It might not change them, nor should it, but it gives a complete view. It lets you see the world from a different perspective and different understanding. If one political party had total control, I think we can all agree that we would be in trouble. You don't think so? About 33% would be strongly misrepresented and another 33% would not be entirely happy. What about the 33% that get exactly what they say they want? They would likely find out they are short sighted on some things and would run into many problems in their new utopia. A multitude of competing ideas makes for a well-rounded government and person.
The long and short of it:
Do I hide the posts of people overly vocal about their political beliefs? Yes, I do! Even more likely if they disagree with my viewpoints, Ha! "That sounds kind of hypocritical," you might think so, but not really. I am not interested in one-sided rhetoric spewed upon me without my consent. Often ill conceived and offensive to my intelligence. You want to debate one-on-one? I am all ears and no feelings will get hurt. We cannot pretend that we are not biased toward our beliefs, but that does not mean we should shut the door on other people’s views. I believe if you take into account the above truths, then you will find it easier to accept other people’s beliefs.
The next article will build on this same idea, with the next step on how to win arguments before they start. This applies to all areas of life and now also your future political debates.