Because it pulls out the deepest of our beliefs and values. The places inside of us that get hidden in the daily this and that of life. The places that most deeply define the ‘me’ of each of us.
We mostly talk about the weather, the kids, TV, funny memes, the traffic, the ball game, the sickness of a friend. The things we know we all can agree to in social way. But when we talk politics we are really talking about who we are. It’s the real us.
And then we see that this person we usually chat with quite easily is not who we are. Is not part of the core beliefs that define ourselves. It’s disturbing and upsetting and even if the conversation is never shouted, it is separator. It creates a sense of other. Not like me.
It is far more comfortable to keep conversations to the safety zones of daily conversations. The places where the illusions of being together and not separate can be maintained. It is these illusions that bind our society together. The agreement to find ways to hold together rather than split apart based on the sense of other that becomes so apparent with politics.
That sense of other is also why people can change their politics. We think we are one perfectly defined ME. But we aren’t. We are an ever changing flow of Me. We are constantly adapting and changing ourselves and our beliefs to our current status. It is the necessity of survival. People change. Politics change. Civilizations change. And the arc of history is toward improvement.
A political conversation marks a person. It makes them think. It puts a small place in their head for a different way to thinking. All of those conversations and experiences add up. Sometimes they add up to have a different view on politics and self. It’s rarely a eureka. It’s rarely a violent change of understanding. It’s usually a small consistent wave onto a shore of new ideas pulling up the sand and redepositing it on a new shore. A new view. A new Me.
It’s a fool who thinks they know everything. It is a fool who cannot change their views when better understanding is obtained. And only fools remain the same.