Every now and then, I find a link I want to share. And I don’t just want to share it via email to a few people who may or may not respond, but to many people in order to start a discussion. But, there’s a problem. My friends, Facebook friends to be more specific, represent a large swath of political beliefs. Social liberals, pacifists, fiscal conservatives, libertarians, and even a conspiracy theorist or two.
The second I go to post a potentially divisive commentary, I find myself thinking of each of them. What will they think of me? Will this start a comment-war? So, I self-censor. I post nothing.
I sit back and read the comments and links my braver friends post and am jealous. They can talk about medicare, abortion, gay marriage, theology, and war but me, all I allow myself to post about only the lightest of topics: knitting, family events, the weather. No one will get angry or disown me if I talk about how I just finished making socks for a cousin’s daughters. Everyone will be forced to hate me, save the three people who actually agree with me, if I dare say what I think about a political issue. I feel I will be told that no Christian should think that or I haven’t done my research or, worse yet, not be told anything when someone reads my comment and thinks to themself, “Wow, I thought she was intelligent, but she thinks that.”
Yet, there is a reason these people are my friends in the first place. To most of them, it’s no secret what I think about political issues. Sure, I don’t pontificate or join in most debates, but I will tell people if they ask. Also, why do my politics have to matter? Two people can disagree and still get along, you just focus on the things that you have in common and, unless you’re in the mood for a debate, don’t tread nearby the topic. But, more importantly, these are people who are not going to think I’m stupid for thinking something. That may be an initial, automatic reaction but, really, my friends and family are an intelligent bunch. They may disagree, and may disagree strongly, but they realize that I’m someone who tends to think things through, to really ponder things from both sides, to consider each argument before making a decision on an issue. I don’t just accept things as true because it’s what my parents told me growing up, I’ve questioned it all for years. (I still do agree with my parents on a great many issues. I don’t mean to give the impression I’ve totally turned my back on them and their beliefs. That’s not the case, at all.)
I am a living, thinking person who has opinions about a great many things. My friend, Leah, when asked to describe me said that I’m opinionated but honest. But, if you look at my Facebook page, you’d think I didn’t have a single political belief other than “Liberal” and “afraid to write about politics.” I’m tired of holding back, of pretending as if I have no thoughts or ideas or commentary to add. Others get to have their say and, now, it’s time for me to have mine.
(This was the article that had me thinking about this in ernest this morning. I was terrified I’d be starting a far too intense discussion for a light-hearted social network. I did post it to Google+, where I somehow feel safer in starting such a discusion, and you can find that topic posted publically on my G+ stream which is here.)