Don’t talk about politics, talk about values

As a kid, I grew up guided by liberal values and conservative manners.  I attended classes that taught me to properly butter my bread, ballroom dance, and eat finger food.  I’ve learned what proper manners are, and in many seemingly un-important instances, have decided to act completely contrary to some of those lessons learned.  I’ll be one of the first to say that manners are extremely important, and in the same breath persist that a bit of good-hearted disobedience is fundamentally important in leading a fulfilling, honest, balanced, and entertaining life.

There is an entertaining page/question on Yahoo Answers about manners.  The inquisitor is determined to find out what things a person shouldn’t discuss when drinking.  The four suggested topics scrape the surface of those topics better left un-touched when drinking (bathroom habits come to mind).

The question is an old one.  It’s commonly considered poor manners to discuss sex, politics, money, and religion publicly (although contemporary America’s view on that seems to be changing a bit).  And when it comes to politics, this classic advice is true, but not for the reasons you might expect.

Why not talk about politics?

I’ve had very strange conversations, not the least of which have been about politics.  Some excitable souls have expressed their extreme affinity for one party, person, or view.  Others have lamented angrily at the poor job an incumbent has done, and like a child and a genie, attempt to wish their problem(s) away through the magic of politics.  To be clear, I’ll talk with anyone about anything and discuss most things with most people, however I find discussing politics with almost anyone a complete waste of time.

I was raised to think on my own guided by liberal values.  There are some (if not many) similarities however, between liberal and conservative values.   For instance, none would argue that liberals and conservatives mutually believe that a person should treat their neighbor with respect, love their fellow human, express their free will without causing harm to others and conduct themselves honestly.

Not one personal conversation or public attack ad speaks or has spoken to real values… basic values… common values.  Basic values are the foundation on which all other actions in life are / should be built on.  Forget the ‘political issues’ for a second.  Forget the economy, immigration, national security, foreign policy, climate change, energy, trade.  Forget what it is you’re ‘fighting’ for, and instead think about what it is that drives you to ‘fight’.  Don’t talk to me about world issues and politics and problems unless you’re willing, truly willing to frame those discussions in the context of basic human values.

I don’t have solutions, merely questions.  For instance, would the economy be in shambles if bankers were honest?  Would national security be an issue if nations loved and respected their fellow men/women?

I don’t have answers, and in my humble opinion, no one does.  No politician, figurehead, leader, or group can even come close to affecting immediate change.  To think that modern political rhetoric somehow has it’s foundation in anything more than a facade of feel-good (or recently negativity) blather is shortsighted and naive.

The only way to affect true and lasting change is for every single person on earth to look inside themselves and commit to leading their life guided by basic good human values.  Why not talk about politics?  Because politics don’t inspire.  Politics are governance, and governance is the act of swaying or controlling.  Instead lets talk about values.  Choose your leader based on their ability to inspire you to look within, and through doing so, look without.  It takes time, far more than one term can afford.

As a kid I grew up with the belief that all fellow humans are innately good.  I still believe it.  Show me a leader that believes the same, and can help inspire the rest of civilization to believe it too.  Then surely politics won’t be defined by governance, but rather leadership and inspiration.

Why not talk about politics?  Because we’ve become too reliant on what politics represent, not what we ourselves do.  Instead, have a discussion about something that’s never been considered off-limits… have a conversation about values.

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