2012-07-08

Maybe we should talk about politics and religion?



           Last week, two friends were talking about their religious faith, and how they felt shy about sharing it within some relationships. I reckon it's the same with political beliefs. I know that I feel more comfortable in a community that believes more like I do. However, I know that even though I have pretty strong leanings, I would be poorer if I weren't friends with some wonderful people who believe and vote much differently than I do. 

            This conversation made me wonder if it is the same in the community of our school, which is very,very supportive and caring, but in terms of outlook, can seem kind of homogeneous. I have sometimes worried that people who hold different political or religious views might feel shy to share their stories here. Without being overly p.c., it does seem important to allow for a wide range of opinions among the families in a school community, just like it welcomes children of all different temperaments and backgrounds. And not just to allow for it, but to actively seek out all sorts of voices. I think I'm beginning to understand a democratic school in a more nuanced way because my friends shared their conversation with me. It seems to me that being truly open to dialog without judgement is the way everyone's voice can be heard. So, I wonder if, in order to build more honest and strong relationships in support of the culture of children, and despite my Grandmother's advice, maybe we should talk about politics and religion?

2 comments:

  1. I was just thinking about how often there is a disconnect between expectations of children and expectations of adults. If we are open and accepting and affirming of all types of children, and we are celebrating their learning styles, individuality, and uniqueness, why not with adults as well?

    As adults, religion and politics are something that should be able to be discussed with curiosity and interest rather than turning people defensive. I think that is one of the differences between children and adults - adults are more likely to think about the differences first and the person second.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts!

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  2. I think about this a lot, but have to admit that I'm one of those with strong leanings as well, which sometimes come out in inappropriately strong ways. I identify what Allie says about "the differences first and the person second." I've recently had a few people from my past come back into my life who have, during the intervening years, evolved differently from me both politically and religiously. I've clashed with all of them, but a few have persisted in treating me like a person first, setting our differences aside, and it's really made me see how I contribute to the toxicity in these discussions.

    Like you, I certainly prefer hanging out with folks who agree with me, and we're not alone. The entire nation seems to be increasingly divided by red-blue, with all of us congregating in our self-selected communities where we don't have to get to know those with whom we disagree.

    I've been teaching at my school for a decade now. Only one parent in that time has ever "confessed" to being a Republican (and she asked that I not tell anyone) and I don't recall ever having a discussion about religion. We are definitely homogenous.

    My teenaged daughter is developing some strong political convictions and often tells me about debates with her classmates (or I "spy" on them on her FB page). They seem to have the ability to really go after each other on specific topics, then, in the very next breath, start gossiping about who's dating whom or planning the next party. I remember doing the same thing when I was in high school. When did I lose this? What can I do to get this back?

    Good stuff to think about . . . Hard, but good.

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