I don’t really like talking a lot about football or politics.
Not these days, when it seems like no one is listening. Whenever I enter a discussion with someone about either topic I always listen first. I want to know what opinions a person has formed. Then I want to know why. I find that most people honestly can’t wait to share their thoughts on either topic with me, and I often get sought out to hear those very thoughts. It’s great. I know a lot about both topics so, please, seek me out.
But, invariably, I’m disappointed with the discussion. Why? Because most people don’t listen.
I don’t mean that they don’t agree with me; I’m not only okay with that but I’m encouraged by it. If others have put in the time and effort to learn important ideas about my favorite topics then that excites me, whether their conclusions concur with mine or not. Here’s an important thing to understand about research: it can lead you to a lot of different conclusions. Just because you’ve dug in and I’ve dug in doesn’t mean we reached the same opinion. Knowledge does not equate to infallibility. It adds depth, but one can know a lot about something and still be wrong about it.
I’m okay with that. I’ve admitted as much. In fact, there’s an old entry I need to look up – it was a crowd favorite – where I admitted that I am probably mostly wrong about everything and probably so are you.*
So, no, I don’t mind that we disagree. You don’t lose me in the discussion the moment you disagree with me. I don’t stop talking because I think you’re wrong. I stop talking because you aren’t paying attention.
It generally doesn’t take long to ascertain that distinction. I can tell immediately when my words aren’t affecting you, when you’re thinking about your next talking point instead of listening to my input on the same. And I tune you out the moment I notice. We’re not in a discussion, and you’ve invalidated your opinion.
On the other hand, I love to talk about football and politics with anyone who likes to. Likes to listen, to respond, to consider all sides even if they adamantly prefer their own. I have deep-seated, strong opinions of my own that I can back with a combination of facts and rhetoric. Tom Brady is the best QB I have ever seen play the game. Colin Kaepernick is an above-average NFL player. Ilhan Omar is a good American. Donald Trump is a misogynistic, entirely self-serving, authoritarian, hapless imbecile. You may have strong opinions about each of those individuals – and I’d love to hear them – but you probably won’t convince me otherwise on any of those matters. You might, however, be able to counter with “Joe Montana was every bit as good as Tom Brady,” “Colin Kaepernick is a distraction,” or “Hillary is just as bad,” and be able to come up with facts and rhetoric to back that up. I love it. Please do.
Just don’t for a moment think that your opinion is the only one that counts. I can tell when you do. Talk. Listen. Talk. Listen. Laugh. Consider. I’m blessed with a bevy of compatriots and acquaintances on all sides of the political and pigskin spectrum that can do just that. For them I am grateful.
As for the rest. Meh. Find someone who agrees with you and only you (it might only be you) and talk to them, only. Stay in the bubble. I’ll be out here learning.
Tonight two of my favorite things in the world collide. On ABC the top ten candidates in the Democratic race for president meet in the third national debate. On NFL Network the Carolina Panthers face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second Thursday Night Football game of the 2019 campaign. Politics. Football. I can’t get enough of either. I’m picking Booker, Warren, Yang, and the Panthers tonight.
Who you got? 👂😏