Welcome to Week 4 of Manly Mondays! With just over 50 days until the election, politics seems to be on tips of everyone’s tongues. Handling the topic of political discussion with care…and manliness.
One of the classic blunders is that you never get in a land war in Asia, and only slightly less well-known is that you never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line. But what the Princess Bride didn’t mention is that the most classic of all blunders is discussing politics with…well, anyone. I can understand why religion can be a toxic discussion. But why politics? The answer: our brand of politics is devoid of the art of gentlemanliness.
A gentleman approaches others with knowledge, class, and understanding. Our brand of politics is willfully ignorant, classless, and dismissive. I challenge you to think about the last time someone, including yourself, has called somebody an idiot for their political position. I recently had the misfortune of observing the fallout of someone ignorantly labeling large group of society as a hate group simply because of their religion. The outlandish exaggerations are a decoy for tolerance and understanding.
This is poisonous to a democracy and the very reason many thought the good old US of A would never last (see Tocqueville’s Democracy in America for a primer). Our outright refusal to grant an opposing viewpoint the dignity of being understood has polarized politicians and the public, limiting progress in too many important areas to list. Being a gentleman how you present yourself and how you accept others. It can change your worldview for the better. Being beholden to a political party, the partisan politics of your parents, etc. leaves you an automaton, and frequently a belligerent one at that.
I mentioned on Facebook about how a day filled with constant fighting between my 1 and 3 year old boys was solved by a potato chip summit on the couch. We found common ground, resolved our differences, and made peace with one another for the rest of the day. They are children, so of course the fighting returned the next day. We are not children. There are lessons to be learned here.