One ‘rule’ of much of polite society is that you shouldn’t discuss religion and politics with people.  (Unless, of course, you are already positive they have the same views as you do and you can just sit around agreeing with each other.) 
You probably hear people say “it isn’t like anyone is going to change their mind.”  Unfortunately, just for that reason alone it is often good advice to just not go ‘there’.  Often people are so ingrained in their ideas they don’t listen and they aren’t open to even considering views that contradict their beliefs.  An individual so wants to make a case for their idea that they don’t listen to the other person’s views and there is no reason for the discourse.
I think there is something sad about this.  Back in the day before your strong opinions were formed – didn’t you enjoy talking about all the possibilities out there?  Wasn’t there a kind of fun in figuring out your values?  Often we start out with values that are the same as our parents (or the direct opposite.) Then we get the joy of the journey to figure out where we really stand.   Many times when we are young we are open to looking at new and different ways of thinking. 
People seem to lose the willingness along the way. I think we miss out if we don’t talk about subjects like religion, spirituality, government, laws, families, and culture just to name a few.  I absolutely love when I really listen to someone and am able to think “I never thought of it that way before.”  Our lives and the societies we live in change constantly.  Doesn’t it seem as if with all the new information out there that we should be taking it in and seeing if our current values still hold true. 
I consider it a failure that so many avoid diving in and having discussions – real discussions about what we believe in.  Not in an effort to change someone’s mind but to share viewpoints and respect the differences. 
Even discussions about topics that you feel strongly about could benefit from being open for discussion.  Sometimes we shy away from hearing other sides because it may feel uncomfortable and it might challenge our beliefs.  A lot of people balk at challenges to their beliefs.  Reevaluating ourselves can be scary.
If your viewpoints are solid – really listening to someone else’s beliefs will not crumble your beliefs, they may help clarify why you believe what you believe.  Or you may gain additional insight or adjust your opinion as you learn.  One of the amazements of life is that we can grow, change, and learn.
Life is complicated and contradictory – doesn’t it make sense that our values and beliefs would be too. Next time a ‘forbidden’ topic comes up try seeing if there is a way to have a genuine discussion and allow you to be open and engaged.  You might be surprised.
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