On a recent edition of the ABC's Q&A program (10/09/2012), one of the guests was the Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen. Needless to say, there was a fair bit of calm preaching from the Archbishop as well as some less calm responses from local atheist/comedian/author Catherine Deveney.
Believe it or not, their back and forth isn't what interests me, rather it's the perception of what is a 'suitable' response from people who saw the program that does.
I have a mixed bunch of friends.
Some of them even bother to read my blog.
But most don't, and I understand that.
I'm what's known as an 'opinionated' friend.
I've been accused by some people of being obnoxious, offensive and rude. All of which takes me by surprise to be honest as I'm actually rather pleasant and entertaining to be around. At least I thought that was the case.
But my facebook posts have upset people to such an extent that I removed them from my friend list in order to stop them getting huffy.
The problem I do have and am willing to admit to it, is that I don't deal with stupid comments terribly well, and by stupid, I mean ill-informed or just plain ignorant.
Of course, opinions are never wrong, but they can be based on ignorance or wrong information.
eg: I once suggested to my late father-in-law, after a quite ill-informed and offensive rant about something, that it was probably better he sat there and looked stupid rather than open his mouth and prove it.
But back to me and my friends.
Most of my friends are nerds, and those who aren't nerds are geeks.
Nerds and geeks aren't so flash, in general, with the whole social interaction thing, and clearly from my comment to my father-in-law, I could slot into that category on occasion.
I don't mean they're drooling animals who can't talk to people, I simply mean they are not good outside their comfort zones. Talk about a topic they love (Star Wars, Buffy, Doctor Who) and they'll talk the leg off a wookiee. However when it comes to issues which actually have some affect on their lives, they often crawl back into their shell - terrified of expressing or hearing an opinion.
They're perfectly comfortable debating, often heatedly, the merits of a Doctor Who episode or whether Han Solo or Greedo shot first in the Mos Eisley Cantina, but not politics or religion and the like.
So when someone does mention it, it's seen as a hostile topic.
Which brings me back to Q&A.
Religion and Politics are often polarizing topics. In fact they're pretty much always that way, unless you're talking to someone who agrees with you. But when you're not, things can quickly escalate into unpleasantries...if the person you are talking to is ill-equipped to have the conversation.
One of my friends has completely opposite leanings to me when it comes to Politics, yet any time we discuss things, there's no raised voices, there's no insulting and we certainly don't think the other person is stupid.
She comes equipped with the same ammunition as me. Facts, beliefs and a non-blinkered view of every single topic.
We agree with some things, we disagree with others. We then eat cake ;)
We've never discussed religion, but I have a reasonable idea that we're on a similar page.
But I've digressed again.
My real concern is that some people have placed their positions as being more valid and thus avoid the conversations at all.
At the end of Q&A, Archbishop Jensen was talking (down) to Catherine Deveney and was in the process of saying that he felt sorry for her when she interrupted him and argued against something that he just said, seemingly missing the thing he was in the process of saying.
He felt sorry for her....? Because she didn't believe in God etc was where it appeared to be heading.
He felt sorry because she was missing out on something greater, something wonderful....and he didn't have to argue his point because he apparently knew better. He knew that gay people shouldn't get married and that being gay meant you had a shorter lifespan.
And finally we get to the point of this blog.
When I talk/argue/debate with someone, I'm not coming from a position where I KNOW I'm right, I'm coming from a position where I THINK I'm right. I'm open to be corrected or shown the error in my ways, but religion (not just the Archbishop's) doesn't allow that. Nor does militant political commentary from any side of politics.
Being a bigot should be offensive to everyone and in my opinion, there are no bigger bigots than religious leaders because they are above debate, above question...and we all know where that's got some of them.
At least politicians change their minds sometimes!
So don't be afraid to have a discussion with me about politics or religion or Doctor Who.
I'm not right and neither are you, but one of us might be! ;)