Becoming whole through family life. Desserts help.
My graduate school professor kindly grilled me about public programs, policy, and politics unmercifully. As a Public Administration major in a Political Science department, I was more interested in the practical “how to” of management than the lofty philosophical ideas on which to base my actions. We continually butted heads when I confidently offered strongly opinionated fixes for public problems big and small. One day he patiently offered (paraphrase mine), “You keep trying to solve wicked problems as if they were tame. Tame problems are straight forward, not necessarily easy, to solve. Take as examples 2 + 3 = 5, building a road, and sending a man to the moon. Wicked problems by their nature are not straight forward. Implement a solution and watch ten other problems and unintended consequences unleash. Wicked problems are closely linked to the human mystery. Take for example poverty, child abuse, and war.”
How to discuss politics or religion with others is also a wicked problem. Both address matters held most closely to the hearts of many.
While I have studied, lived, and am passionate about my political and religious life, I highly value civil discourse shared on the personal and private level. This isn’t a kumbaya, let’s all just get along, way to avoid discussing difficult topics. It is a matter of priorities and understanding my personal strengths and weaknesses. Sharing my opinions with people whom I have little or no relationship has consistently proven lame.
I am most loving, respectful, and effective sharing my opinions in the context of a reciprocal relationship. If I’m going to talk seriously (as compared with good humored banter) about politics or religion with someone, let’s get to know each other one-to-one first. We can talk about things we share in common, like the joy found in the perfect enchilada, or the baseball game winning double play, or the pretty mother of the bride dress. If that goes well, let’s talk about the sadness of relocating, being ill, or losing a friend. If that goes well, let’s talk about our fear of the unknown, failure, and death. If we make it through all of this, we are likely to have earned each other’s respect and trust. At this point, and only if it is mutually beneficial, I am willing to face most anything. Together.
Gray Stripe Earned: Talk about politics or religion in the context of a respectful relationship.