We need to talk more politics at the dinner table.
If we’re not engaging in discourse about important political issues or current events within our own network with people who respect and whose opinions we value, then how can we expect to have these conversations with people who aren’t as likely to share our views?
A couple weeks ago, over dinner, one of my friends mentioned that he didn’t care much for politics. I was genuinely curious as to why.
The answer he gave me isn’t far off from what I’ve heard other people say before too. “There are only 24 hours in a day,” he said, “and it doesn’t affect me anyways.”
It’s one thing if I slip up and I don’t keep up with current events because I get busy. It’s understandable that reading the news shouldn’t occupy all of my waking hours, that at this moment, my upcoming midterm takes precedent over learning the finer details of the healthcare debate. But it’s another thing to adamantly demand that politics is not important if it does not affect me, or that it doesn’t affect me in the first place.
It seems that we tend to steer clear of politics at the dinner table because it can get unintentionally tense. Perhaps this is because in joining a political discussion, the barrier to entry is that we admit that we are a part of politics. And at that point, we’re either contributing to the problem or to the solution.
It’s definitely uncomfortable to realize that (not all, but a lot of) people who don’t have to care about politics are the same people who contribute to the problem. However, what may be just as large of a problem is an inability and unwillingness to recognize our own responsibility in politics, which can contribute to this aforementioned tenseness.
There’s a certain privilege that comes with being apolitical. When we stay quiet and are unwilling to speak out, this is not taking a position of neutrality. This act of complacency is essentially actively choosing to ignore what’s hurting people so we don’t feel uncomfortable ourselves.
The world is a lot bigger than this Duke bubble, and it’s important to share and hear how others’ experiences have informed their world view. Discussion fuels progress, and America needs a lot of that right now.
Emily Liu is a Trinity sophomore.
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