Experiencing Interpersonal Political Burnout? Of course, you are.

From time to time, the big wheel turns, and everyone becomes more interested and anxious about political issues. The good news is that people are trying to be informed. The bad news is people are often misinformed and, much worse, purposefully uninformed. Vibrant, intelligent discussion about political subjects deteriorate in name calling. We all know at least that one someone who so easily declares that anyone who disagrees with him must be “stupid.” So much for “vibrant.” So much for “intelligent.” Unless you decide to live as a hermit, you will encounter this situation just about everywhere.

We know that Calling someone with whom you disagree a “Nazi” or a “fascist” is like other name calling—it bypasses the necessity to provide evidence and to persuade intelligently. Nowadays, so many have a strong prejudice and even hate for those who do not agree with them. It is the latest form of discrimination. Surely no one reading would say such a thing, right? But even if you would not, you don’t have to go out of your way to find yourself the victim of such brutality.  What to do?

As a practical matter, remember that when most people argue, they don’t really know how to do it. In other words, having a real debate requires very refined listening skills and when people “fight” they are not listening. You can tell that someone is not listening when they:

  1. Interrupt or talk over the other person
  2. Change the subject often
  3. Get loud or act exasperated
  4. Resort to name calling and generalization. My favorite is, “you people always….”
  5. Look at the other person aggressively and with disgust.

You cannot get your point across in this situation. They do not want a discussion. They do not want a debate. They want a street fight. Don’t go there.

Now some people aren’t verbal street-fighters, but they just don’t have the capacity to be civilized during that moment in time. So, don’t try to talk to anyone about anything controversial if they are: tired, hungry, drunk, or otherwise distracted. They just can’t focus. You might want to also check yourself. Are you up to being brilliant and polite? If you don’t feel like you are, wait for another occasion to put on your political commentator hat.

If someone is not capable of listening to you, it is annoying, but don’t despair. People really care a lot more about what you do than your opinion, and you can control that. People say a lot of things, but we know how sincere or insincere they are by the way they live their life. No one can take that away from you. So, if someone calls you a name or acts hateful because you do not agree, thank God that you can continue doing good. Words are very important, but deeds are better in every way. In some situations, you don’t have a choice because words are failing to have an effect, but good deeds will eventually win any argument. Wait and see.

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