I Don’t Talk About Politics
I was brought up to believe that it isn’t polite to talk about politics, money, or religion. It puts both you and those you converse with in an awkward position — to claim likemindedness or to be alienated. I was told that a thoughtful person simply does not do that to their friends, family, or acquaintances.
This social practice is separate from having beliefs or ideas. You should still have convictions about what is right and good. I am not encouraging social relativism. I am encouraging civility and kindness. I aspire to create a safe environment where others want to talk to me about more than just the weather.
That being said, as a teenager I wanted to learn to discuss politics in a “proper” way, with the option of taking it on as a career. I went to university in Washington, D.C., where I planned to become a master of wit and charm. I would be able to talk about any subject, with any person, while maintaining dignity and grace. Within a matter of days, I found that not only was I uninterested in American politics, I found the practice of it dull. Everyone I met on campus, all the way down to The Mall, had some cause or ideal that they had ascribed to by the age of 13 and had come to D.C. to talk about that one thing ad nauseam.
I had hoped for a dialogue, a discourse, a thoughtful exchange of intelligent minds on subjects that ranged from civil rights to the implications of taxation on water buffalo herders. Ultimately, I left D.C., discontinued any political aspirations, and went home to the California tech industry.
So, with the 2016 election at an end, should I talk about politics? No. I will continue to do my utmost each day to be good, to do right by those around me, and to support causes that I care for in my own private way. You may disagree with my tactics; in fact you probably do. Sometimes a collection of unified voices can change the world. Today I will smile, be great at my job, and encourage others to do the same.