Polite Company

Under the guidelines of this prompt, I am almost never polite company. 

January 15 Polite company “It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?

I seriously screwed the pooch on this one, as they say. I’m not exactly sure where that saying came from, but it means to totally mess something up.

When I applied to university, it was with the ambitions to study as a religion major. However, the summer prior to starting my first year, I had planned out a four-year double major in religion and political science. I wanted to study both, and I had a plan to make it happen. All I had to do was get accepted as anything and then declare my major at the end of my first year. Loophole!

It took me four years, plus one semester (and a few summer semesters) to make it happen, but I did it. I now proudly boast whenever anyone asks me what I studied in university “the short version: politics and religion”. Now, of course, I tack on my degree in education as well.

I say “the short version” because some people don’t want to hear the whole thing. I can’t get it out in one breath. Some people are just being polite, and asking a general interest question. And then, there are some people who you know are just itching to start something with you. You’ve heard them talking and you know you’re in for an intense conversation if they have all the information. Sometimes, I like to edge these people on and say “the short version”. Yeah – I’m a button pusher.

But sometimes, people are genuinely shocked that I have studied both politics and religion. I’ve heard the “oo religion I get, but politics? Really?” Um yeah – like I could never have any interest in politics. Please…

Other responses range from “oh wow! That’s interesting” to “didn’t anyone ever tell you not to mix politics and religion?” Depending on who said it, I might just launch into some statistical data showing how most governments are formed around some sort of religious ideology, and that interactions between governments are also subject to those ideologies as well.

In all fairness, I really haven’t had much use for my first degree – other than shocking elderly relatives or starting intense “conversations” with random people. I like the shock factor of it. Also the shock of people finding out I have tattoos, but that’s another topic haha.

I think I definitely am on the fence with this prompt. Nice strangers, who are just trying to be polite, definitely don’t talk about religion and politics. It is such a hot button issue – and a reason I was drawn to the double major in the first place. But with people who I don’t know, who are being jerks about it, I have no problem switching into my debate-mode and starting something up with them. I guess it depends on who I am talking to, what kind of person they are, and what kind of mood I am in.

But I’m glad that I have my first degree. It has given me an insight into the world and into other people. I have a general knowledge of the world’s major religions (and some less popular ones) and have a better appreciation for those people who subscribe to those ideologies. I understand people, and their actions, better. I like that I have that side to me. It makes me feel more connected to humanity as a whole.

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