My friend Robb once told me politics and religion are two subjects he never discusses with any of his friends. I didn’t quite understand why until just recently, where I almost lost a new friendship over having repeated heated discussions surrounding those very subjects.
When it comes to religion, I’m a pretty open person. I’ve studied a number of them on and off over the years and would probably attend any type of religious service I was invited to simply out of interest. While I follow the teachings of Christ and believe in a Higher Power, whom I choose to refer to as God, I also regularly entail some Buddhist spiritual practices and carry some of that religion’s beliefs as well. I utilize prayer and meditation on a daily basis and repeat mantras throughout my day too. I absolutely enjoy talking about religion and exploring the many facets of discussion it can bring and attend a very open-thinking spiritual service on most Sundays. My friend Mike on the other hand is very jaded towards religion, especially lately when it comes to Christianity. He does not employ any type of daily religious or spiritual practice. He doesn’t attend any type of weekly service either. And over time, I’ve learned he’s far more slanted towards agnosticism than towards living any type of specific faith. Discussing religion with him is definitely not something he’s very open-minded about.
As for politics, I know absolutely nothing really on the subject and honestly, I don’t care about it either. I’m not pro or against our current president or any candidate running against him either. There are many elections I’ve never even voted in and at this point, I’m not sure if I’ll even vote in the upcoming ones either. And up until just recently, I actually didn’t even know who my state governor was or who my local mayor was either. One would be safe to say I’ve become pretty close-minded about the subject of politics, mostly because it just doesn’t matter to me. My friend Mike on the other hand is deeply entrenched into politics, is extremely dedicated to keeping up on all the hot topics and issues, and totally despises Donald Trump and his whole administration. He posts dozens of political things on his Facebook daily and I think it’s safe to say he’s very knowledgeable of anything political related and could successfully carry on a conversation with someone who likes to talk about that sort of thing.
So, as you can, we couldn’t be more different on the subjects of religion and politics. Yet, that didn’t stop us from initially trying to have conversations surrounding both. Unfortunately, all they resulted in each time we did, was negativity and tension. For as much as I will probably always remain open-minded when it comes to religion and spirituality and close-minded when it comes to politics, Mike will probably always remain close-minded when it comes to religion and spirituality, and open-minded when it comes to politics. In light of that, trying to force each other to see it from each of our own perspectives, has only been met with arguments and polarization.
Here’s the good thing though. There are many other subjects to healthily discuss in every friendship and thankfully, Mike and I have continued to explore a number of them. But, just as important, we’ve recently had to set some boundaries that have kept all religious and political discussions off the table because of that negativity and polarization it was creating in the both of us. And the last thing I personally need right now is any increased feeling of negativity in my life when the world is already filled with so much of that presently.
The bottom line here that I learned with my friend Mike is that religion and politics are two subjects that often become taboo to discuss amongst friends. They tend to be loaded discussions at times and ones that frequently lead towards argumentative battles. Battles that in the end are only going to end a friendship, rather than connect them deeper. I would prefer not to lose my friendship with Mike or anyone really, so, Robb, I agree with you! I’m glad I learned that these two subjects are maybe best left off the table when it comes to exploring a new friendship!
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson