At first, I thought that I could avoid them by cutting down on the time I spent on social networks. But to no avail. It's everywhere: people's political views, stands on social issues. I can tell you where nearly every single one of my Facebook friends stand on abortion, gay rights, gun control, welfare, health care, the environment, the president, immigration, raw milk, vaccinations, and genetically modified organisms.
Oh, I miss the time when people posted what they had for dinner on Facebook.
Every where I turn, there are arguments about all these issues. I do everything I can to avoid these conversations. I do my best to ignore all the polarizing posts, posting instead about Duck's milestones and my plans for the weekend. I never talk about politics outside my own home.
But it's not because I don't care. I'm passionate about many issues. I have strong opinions about these issues and which way I think the country should go. But I'm not posting them on social media. I'm not making polarizing blog posts. I'm not arguing with my coworkers about them. I'm not joining in the conversation, regardless of whether I agree with you or not.
Because it doesn't help. When was the last time someone changed their opinion because of a political picture posted on Facebook? When was the last time a political disagreement around the work lunch table ended with the two different sides agreeing? It doesn't happen.
All it does is continue to polarize people, drive them apart, and create a contentious environment. I'm sick of it.
Sermons given over the pulpit are for those already in church, for those already converted. Those sermons never bring someone in the door.
There is only one thing that has every changed someone's opinion. And shockingly enough, it wasn't that picture you posted about eagle eggs and unborn babies.
The only thing that changes how people think about something is experience. The proverbial "walking in someone else's shoes." Until something happens to you, until something happens to someone you love, until you witness someone's example, there is no changing a person.
It's not the billboard that convinced a person to go to church, it's seeing someone do something remarkable that draws you in. It's not editorialized photos that change people's thinking, it's having it happen to you.
Very few of us have the same view of things that we had as children. It's because of experience. Going through life, having things happen to us, seeing how things affect the ones we love. That's why we change.
I'm not telling people to stop feeling passionately about things. By all means, continue your strong feelings about social issues. But focus those feelings into real actions. Because you aren't convincing anybody to agree with you simply by arguing, or forwarding a Facebook meme.
Now, excuse me, I have to go and tell everyone what I'm having for dinner.