When I was younger, my mother used to say there are 3 things “you don’t talk about in polite conversation”, largely I guess because they get people emotional, personal, and well… angry.
Truth is, however, on this account, I’m pretty rude. Sorry Mom.
Not only that, I get worse after a couple of drinks. (No, I don’t mean when I get hammered. That’s another thing.) After a few drinks, my voice gets louder, and I start to care…. just a little bit less… about polite. I tend to think of it as a character flaw, nothing good can come of this, but I do bring the fun in. I should note at this point, I’m not talking about ‘standing up’. Sometimes you have to do that, I’m talking about when you don’t… have to.
Anyway, so offending people is one of those things that comes natural to me and I like to argue. But as I have grown up, I have seen the value in keeping my mouth shut on occasion. Sometimes there is wisdom in silence and sometimes you can learn something if you listen. And yes, you can have these conversations, and still be polite… but it is the hard road.
These days, I see my mom’s sage advice as entirely practical. This is why I tend towards accommodation, in a world that has seen too many religious wars. This is why I’m a political moderate, when the left and right are being as stupid and intransigent as they can be. And this is why, I think secular people need to take a time out, on the whole gender war thing.
Nothing wrong with having a strong opinion. But respecting people isn’t just about please and thank you, its about trying to give them credit, how ever hard it maybe be, even for ideas we disagree with. Because it is always the other dude, who is being irrational. Ask yourself, one question when you’re having a conversation… are you trying to win? If that is the case, en guarde! Just remember, war is never polite, and it often costs a lot more than you think it will.