Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Never Talk Politics with Friends

It's a friendly night out with work collegues, a pint or two into the evening, someone mentions immigration, 'well, they took all our jobs, didn't they?'. From now on, the door has been blown wide open, an unsettling breeze burns into our hearts. You know the night has taken a turn for the worse. Politics and religion, as is often stated, should rarely be discussed, and rarer should they become discussed amongst friends.

No other two subjects provoke such deep, rightious passion, while coupled with more than a sprinkling of prejudice and ignorance. I include myself here, except, of course, I have the additional benefit of 'knowing' , that my opinion is more informed, more authoritive and generally more just, than any of the alternatives being voices by my esteemed work mates. The trouble is, that unfortuanately my friend, sitting across the table from me, thinks exactly the same too...

Only his opinion is in marked contrast to mine, which is in marked contrast to his neighbour and contrasts further, with the views of the bar tender which he dispenses, as he leans over, expanding upon his less orthodox vantage, a Mexican Jew, with an Irish protestant wife.

However, everyone must recognize this scenario, perhaps it is the reason your brother and father no longer communicate. Arguments about politics run deep, at worst, even blood-ties can become severed.
The question is, how do you handle the arrival of politics at your formally relaxed and jovial table? It helps to understand that generally two things seem to occur in a debate: consolidation and polarisation. Most people enjoy the sense of mutual assurance that occurs when someone elaborates on feelings and opinions that you too hold.
The 'I never eat in McDonald's', 'Me neither, haven't stepped inside those doors for close to 15 years' conversation, is an example of how our own beliefs get further support and reaffirmation, from the endorsement of those people surrounding us. Alternatively, if the person had replied 'what? why not, i love McDonalds', you know, you'd be heading for trouble.

I don't want to dissect the nature and dynamics of argument here, but just to expound slightly on a situation which, though, common in occurance, is not discussed nearly as much as the world
of actual politics, along with all the discussion, debate and discourse that that world inspires throughout the day, each and every day.