“I was not very charitable in my response to you…”
“That bit stings a little…”
“You are using arguments I am not making against me.”
“I am not meaning to make you upset…. I don’t want to fight… I am not trying to twist or skew or attack… but I do feel you are slightly…”
“Yes I am attacking, because I feel attacked. Retract claws, I know.”
“I need a break from this…”
It takes a lot to make me cry. Crying embarrasses me: I cry when I am frustrated and angry and I cannot intelligently form the thoughts that are circling in my mind. I feel weak when I cry. The conversation above made me cry. I have stripped it down to the emotional responses my friend and I were giving each other before each reply as we discussed my post A Prayer Request. In our defense, we began the email thread late at night. My mom brain kicks into overdrive these days, and in addition to the normal dozen or so things on my mind at any given moment, I obsessed about this conversation all night. I turn into an insomniac when I begin to obsess on subjects like abortion. I dream about it, wake up repeatedly to obsess, bite my fingernails off for breakfast and get on the elliptical and push myself to the max in an effort to minimize the space I have available to dwell on the subject. The only solution to the obsessing (and the insomnia) is the other person frantically waving a white flag. This scenario only worsens when I feel as though I am on the defense.
Maybe the email thread bugged me because I was tired. Maybe I was just too stressed to effectively discuss abortion. Perhaps I was upset because it was the first time my friend and I began to stray from our normally heavy handed yet completely civil discussions and into argument territory. Whatever the reason, the exchange brought my friend and I to a crossroads on this particular subject: thicken our skin in order to delve deeper into the subject, or stop talking about it altogether.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for civil and even tempered discussions on hot-button issues to take place, even amongst the closest of friends. Does this mean we stop having the discussions? Does it mean we begin to separate from our relationships with family and friends and only keep in touch with those who agree with us politically or religiously? Is there a balance to strive for, or should religion and politics always be off limits?
The answer I am striving for is balance, however difficult it is to achieve. I believe you can only superficially discuss something so many times before the conversation naturally begins to deepen. The deeper you dig, the more you are invested personally in the discussion. Emotions are attached when you are passionate about your beliefs. I do not think it wise to simply avoid politics and religion with those you love as a blanket solution. There are situations that warrant this approach, but civil discourse is vital in tumultuous times!
I have flaws in how I present my arguments and responses in these types of discussions. In order to effectively get my point across I need to overcome these flaws. I need to remember the pure genius of Saint Bernadette Soubirous: