Snow: Lose friends, make enemies, talk politics

October 13, 2012 

House guests were coming for the weekend.

“Now don’t bring up politics,” my wife cautioned.

I didn’t need reminding that the couple, two of our favorite people, are of a different political persuasion. Avidly so.

I’m a peaceable person, not looking for a fight, certainly not verbal free-for-all over politics or religion, since neither is winnable. Arguing over either can deteriorate into a standoff that leaves lasting scars.

Never in my memory has political partisanship been as vicious as it has during this presidential campaign.

I’ve long made it a practice not to needle friends or relatives when their team, candidate or cause comes up on the short end of the stick.

It’s not that I’m that pious. It’s just that I know that some time down the road, my team, my candidate, etc. will lose, and it will be payback time.

On a recent Sunday, dressing for church, I decided to wear my Wolfpack-red sports jacket .

Why, I wasn’t sure. Perhaps I wore the jacket to salute my N.C. State friends, since Carolina had lost to Wake Forest the previous day while State had posted a win.

So I was surprised when a couple days later I received an e-mail from a Sunday School buddy that in effect gleefully celebrated Carolina’s current season of discontent in which one shoe after another keeps falling.

Admittedly, the anecdote did elicit a chuckle. It had to do with the stereotype of the “dumb” Carolina jock who had been trying for years to graduate.

Finally, the dean told him that during halftime of homecoming, he’d be asked one question. If he answered correctly, he’d receive his diploma, right there in front of God and everybody; if not, he’d be forced to leave the university and never return.

At the appointed time, the dean put the question to the fellow: “What is three times three?”

After a long pause, the fellow walked to the mike and answered, “Nine!”

Before the dean could congratulate him, the entire Carolina side of the stadium rose en masse and screamed, “Second chance! Second chance!”

We can take such ribbing in stride with good humor. But politics is another matter.

I do not understand those people who waste time sending political propaganda to people they know are of a different political persuasion.

These missives not only irritate but can sow the seeds of feuds as fierce and lasting as that of the Hatfields and McCoys.

I’m so puzzled by this phenomenon that I asked my friend, philanthropist Dr. Assad Meymandi, for a psychiatric opinion to explain why some people feel compelled to email these political hate pieces.

“Unfortunately, by nature, politics, as Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in ‘The Prince,’ brings out the animal in us,” he said. “Top that with the fact that negative ads get results, it has created an atmosphere of unprecedented rudeness and, sometimes, savagery.

“Mature people may disagree without being disapproving,” he continued, recalling how he and the late W.W. Finlator had political orientations 180 degrees apart. “Yet civility and love was abundant between us.

“Ultimately, the answer is understanding and love, which Augustine describes as a state of absence of abuse. We must become more loving, more considerate of others, and more altruistic, while reserving the right to intellectually disagree.”

Our weekend with our house guests couldn’t have been more harmonious. It’s just a matter of keeping our opinions to ourselves – especially if they’re partisan.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

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