If you are like me, you are very opinionated when it comes to economics, politics and philosophy. You probably have a controversial facebook status or two under your belt or a few memes saved in a folder on your computer just waiting to be unleashed on the next person you talk to that goes full potato. I make a lot of people upset everywhere with these ideas of capitalism and voluntaryism. I have been told that all I do is talk negatively about government without offering a solution (though isn’t leaving people and their things alone for once a solution?). I’ve actually lost a lot of friends because of my convictions. These were not friends that I wanted to cease having a relationship with, but friends that didn’t like my convictions and therefore didn’t like me anymore.
I think this concept of avoiding the subjects of Politics and Religion around friends and family is rooted in a particular human trait. The trait within us that causes us to have our identity completely wrapped up in ideas and world views and lacking the maturity to admit when we are wrong. This adoption and integration of ideas into who we are as individuals is great on some levels, but it must be tempered with reason and logic. I think it takes a mature person to acknowledge when they are wrong or have believed things that are false. Sure, perhaps something that they tied their identity to is proven wrong, but now their identity is ever more aligned with truth. It is this positive side that a mature person sees.
I have found with most people that avoid these “taboo” subjects that they are the kinds of people that believe things but lack the intellect to defend them. They really like how “the troops fight for freedom” rings in their ears. They really like how “Pay your fair share” rolls off the tongue. The problem is that these same people have no clue how to rationally defend their beliefs. When they engage in conversation they barely get above “responding to tone” on the pyramid to the right.
I have experienced this almost every time when I challenge the status quo with people in the realm of politics with my very a-political perspectives. If I accuse the US government of mass murder and supply historical facts and instances to back it up, I’m being “negative”. Somehow claiming that I am negative counts as a refutation of my accusation that the US government is the largest terrorist organization on the planet. Recently I was engaged in “conversation” with an individual who wanted me to provide instances of polycentric law and anarchism working in the past. I provided the evidence for this, and they proceeded to ignore my examples and arguments. To them, pretending that those factual points don’t exist counts as a refutation as well. I have noticed that once I call someone out on these argumentative fallacies, things get ugly.
Nobody likes to be made a fool but it is even more foolish to become hostile and aggressive when someone points out a legitimate contradiction or fallacy in your line of thinking. In fact, you should be thanking that person who has called you out on how you are wrong! They have helped you get nearer to truth! The “polite” idea that “friends and family shouldn’t talk about politics and religion” rests on the idea that people prefer to live in lies and fantasy rather than the clarity of truth. And this single ugly flaw within all of us is the source for much of the problems we face today. These people are not willing to engage in conversation about these subjects because they either consciously or subconsciously know they lack the mental fortitude to defend the “truth” they believe in. The idea that “friends shouldn’t talk about politics and religion” is for cowards. It’s for people that are afraid of what the truth might hold. They want to walk through life pretending that they are standing on solid intellectual ground without ever testing beliefs in the marketplace of ideas. Because of this, humanity has had to suffer the pains of it’s own illogical devices.
The next time someone talks about a “sensative” subject with you and they get angry, remind them that you are just exchanging ideas with them. That together, you can both find truth. If you are proven wrong, suck up your pride and thank that person. They have just helped direct you further down the path to truth.