I’m a political junkie! I study politics, write about politics, and inevitably get into discussions about politics. Political discussions have a tendency to get heated. The deeper you get into the discussion, the likelier to be fact free. I’ve decided to establish some rules that will govern my interactions. These will apply to my blog posts, discussions, and most of all the comments section for articles I write. If I’m commenting on your blog, feel free to establish your own rules. Here we go:
Use your words! For clarity, memes are not words, links to someone else’s site are not your words. If you can’t express yourself in your own words, your opinion is not required.
Be civil. In the words of the late Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?” I know that losing an argument is frustrating but refrain from personal attacks, especially on other commenters on my blog. I don’t believe in censorship but bad behavior will get you booted. It won’t be your “conservative views” but asshole tendencies.
I won’t argue with my friends. I don’t mean the Internet only friends that I have no interaction with outside of social media. If you’re a real friend and our views are diametrically opposed. I’ll grant you the right to your opinion, I won’t even insist you grant that right to me. My friendships don’t require agreement.
Be prepared to document your beliefs. We all process a lot of information and unfortunately a lot of what we see/hear/feel isn’t true. You (or even me) repeating something you heard doesn’t make it true. I have no problem documenting what I say, as long as it’s a reasonable request and you ask nice. You should be prepared to do the same.
I won’t debate someone without a prerequisite level of knowledge. If you have no sense of history. If you don’t understand our election system or the Constitution. If you can’t use your own words (See Rule #1). We don’t have any business conversing. Go read some books.
Stay calm. It’s still just a discussion. If you can’t keep from devolving into personal insults, you’re doing something wrong. It’s okay to be wrong and admit it. I’m wrong sometimes and try to learn from the experience. If you have no desire to learn anything, what’s the point in engaging?
That’s it. Six simple rules to abide by and we’re good. Be sure to vote as well, talking and not voting is time wasted.
When I was a youth in Minneapolis, MN, my grandmother would pick my brothers and I up to go to Sunday School and Church at 9:00 every Sunday. She told us that she would be there at 9:00 and if we weren’t ready, she would leave us. I don’t know what would actually happen if we were late because during the dozen or so years it applied. We were never late.
Throughout life I have ranked timeliness somewhere between cleanliness and Godliness and have done my best to be on time everywhere for everything. I recognize that there are some events where it is “socially acceptable” to arrive late, that doesn’t prevent me from establishing my own determination of what is late and abiding by it. Only one thing keeps me from being on time for absolutely everything… other people.
It seems that the people who have played the biggest roles in my life have no appreciation for time. I still have hope for my own grandchildren who have not yet been corrupted by their parents who should know better. I have resigned myself that showing up on time for birthday parties, social affairs, pretty much everything, is a futile effort and spending time in my life I’ll never get back.
You’d think as time passed this would be less of a problem? Before my grandmother passed, our family organized an appreciation dinner at a hotel where her friends and family could acknowledge how important she’d been in their lives. I’d flown into town and was staying at her home, along with my mother and one of my brothers. That she was being honored was a surprise to her, she thought she was attending an event having to do with me. She suffered from diabetes and was mostly blind, yet she rushed us all to get ready and out the door so that we wouldn’t be late. If she’d gotten her way, we’d have all arrived at the hotel at noon for a 2 pm event. The future doesn’t bode well for me in terms of caring less about time.
I am who I am and accept it. The others in my life are who they are and I’m trying to grudgingly accept that as well. I still arrive at work 15-minutes early every day, on the rare day I’m only 5–10 minutes early… I’m late. I’m the only one that cares, except of course my grandmother who’s looking down smiling.
Being an optimist has its downside. When attracted to someone I often fill in the blanks of all that I don’t know, with what I would like them to be. I endow them with character traits I imagine. I’m not blind to what I see, instead giving credit for qualities not demonstrated. Not necessarily perfect, just perfect for me. As time goes by, I come face to face with the realization that the reality of she isn’t the same as my projections.
On an early date, I took a woman to a public event and an elderly man squeezing past spilled some popcorn on her. She immediately cursed him out for being so stupid. I was horrified. I confess to having little understanding of fabrics and stains and the possibility that butter might ruin an expensive blouse or pair of pants. It’s also possible that I judged her unfairly for falling off my self-created pedestal. It’s certain that I was wrong to demand someone comport themselves in the manner I desire rather than seeing the person for who they are and making decisions based on reality, not fiction.
Pursuing someone because of who you think they are instead of who they are leads to disastrous results. Bob Marley said, “The biggest coward is a man who awakens a woman’s love with no intention of loving her.” Hoping to care for someone isn’t the same thing as actually doing so. I didn’t like the answer when I asked myself if I’ve ever cared more about the chase than in having someone once caught? If I want better I have to do better.
Getting to actually know someone takes time and requires one to put in the hard work of communication. That work isn’t all painful but honest communication will require risk and trust. Not having those conversations will leave room for doubts to grow and fester. It will involve a negotiation with yourself as to what you can honestly accept and what you can’t. You must also give the other person the opportunity to make informed decisions, not choosing for them what they’re entitled to know. Yes there’s a risk that having serious discussions may reveal you aren’t a match after all but isn’t that the point. A minor disappointment is far preferable to major heartbreak.
Accepting someone for who they are means not hoping to change them. Or criticizing down the road how they dress, walk, and talk. If you acknowledge and accept who they are when you are getting to known them. It will eliminate issues later.
This isn’t a perfect world, nor are there perfect people. There are those out there that given the chance can accept you for who you are. You also need to be willing to see them for who they are, without judgment and without projection. There’s no one else to blame for seeing someone in an imaginary light of your own creation.