This prompt comes from the ebook of 365 prompts put out by the Daily Post blog.
“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?
Disagree, very much.
In my experience, it’s better to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t know very well. By the time you’re already friends with someone, if they’re a good friend (or if they’re family), if you have severe disagreements with them on the subjects of religion or politics what good comes from discussing them? Unless you really are the rare pair who can discuss it without wanting to murder each other.
Most of my politics are tied up in my life or death. That’s how it is when you’re a member of an oppressed class in an oppressive society. Abortion rights aren’t a quaint mental exercise for me; they’re a matter of whether I live or die. Fat acceptance isn’t me whining because I don’t want to lose weight; fatphobia has very real consequences for the health of fat people, and I deserve to be treated with respect no matter my size. Equal rights and protections for trans* folks aren’t just some abstract thing I can talk about with buddies over a beer; they affect my friends, they affect me — they affect our lives and safety. If I decide to present as male and I get into a situation where the cops need to see my ID, guess what? My life is at risk, because if they see “F” under sex and I don’t match what they expect in their brains, there is no telling what they’ll do. If I go to a doctor who decides that all my problems are because I’m fat and they misdiagnose me, that could have real, life-or-death consequences for me — and I’m not even getting into the mental health issues that come from living in a society that’s geared towards hating fat people.
For these things that are life or death for me, there’s no room for disagreement. Because disagreeing that I deserve the right to terminate a pregnancy without legal interference is saying that I don’t deserve to have agency over my own body. Disagreeing that I have the right to present as male without fear is saying I’m not a person to you. Disagreeing that I have the right to respect no matter what my size because you’re “so concerned for my health” is saying that what really matters is not my health, but your comfort — because if you knew anything about my health, you wouldn’t say a damn thing about my needing to lose weight.
As for religion, it’s not a life or death situation for me, at least not here in Canada — but it does have a lot to do with my mental health, my happiness, my life going smoothly. If I’m making friends with someone, I’d rather know early on if they’re going to try to convert me to something else every chance they get, or if they’re going to call CPS to protect my (future) kids from my “devil worship”. That’s an actual worry for someone who IDs as a witch, by the way. Don’t kid yourself that it’s not.
I want to know if someone is the type of person who believes, truly believes, that they cannot be moral without religion to guide them. Because I don’t want to know those people. If religion is the only thing stopping them from hurting other people, then I don’t want to be around if they have a crisis of faith.
I’d rather discuss politics and religion early on in a relationship. That way, if they’re a transphobic misogynist who doesn’t really believe I’m a person with rights and freedoms, I know to not let them any further into my life. That way, if they’re not bigoted, but just very uneducated, I know exactly what I’m getting into and can decide if I want to spend the spoons on educating this person. That way, if they’re the proselytizing type, they know early on there’s no point to try with me — I’m not open to conversion tactics — I know early on that I may need to be prepared to kick them out of my life, if they don’t stop trying. That way, if they believe that religion is the only way to have a moral compass, I can say goodbye early on. I prefer my friends to be able to steer their ships with their own moral compass regardless whatever god or gods may be in their lives.
I try to keep the peace with people I still want to be friends with, even if they disagree with me on politics or religion. (There are not many people like this in my life, for the record, and those that are disagree with me on portions of politics that aren’t life or death for me.) Discussing these things only comes up if I think we might actually make progress, instead of talking past each other and getting angry.
And as for talking religion or politics with random people on the internet…. Well, what do you think my blogs are for?