Today was Christmas Eve, so we spent the day at my in-law’s.
We had a great day. My wife comes from a big family (she’s one of eight kids) and most of her siblings are married with kids. So it’s fun when everyone gets together.
We enjoyed good food, the kids opened presents and I got to fly my drone for the first time (Phantom 2 Vision+)! And toward the end of the night I heard a few of the guys talking about politics at the kitchen table.
I thought about avoiding the discussion altogether and going into the other room. But my only other option was to watch cartoons with the kids in the TV room, and that sounded more boring.
So I sat down and listened for a while until the topic turned to national security and the question of whether we’ve given up too many of our rights and allowed the government to “watch us” too closely.
Everyone else was pretty much nodding their heads in agreement when I for some reason decided to disagree (I think sometimes I just disagree because I get bored complaining about the same things).
“So what is the actual downside of the government knowing too much?”
While I don’t like the idea of the government controlling people or telling people how to live their lives I don’t really have a problem with them “spying on bad guys” in an effort to combat evil.
I used the “Eye in the Sky” story as a good example of this.
I told them about how law enforcement could fly planes in the sky and zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes quickly (To learn more, listen to this podcast by RadioLab).
They’ve tested this out in cities like Juarez, Mexico and have used the “eye in the sky” to solve murders and bring down drug cartels who are responsible for hundreds of murders. Yet, they can’t use this in the U.S. because people are concerned that this would involve us “giving up our rights.”
So we bantered back and forth about this issue and several others. Each one of us arguing our points while the others respectfully listened.
For the next two hours we discussed everything from local issues, like the light-rail initiative to world events, like the Syrian refugee crisis.
Even though we’re talking politics we never really get into arguments or get too heated. Most of us have conservative or libertarian views so we don’t have huge disagreements. Maybe if one of us was really liberal it would cause some more intense arguments, but even then I feel like her family is mature enough that it wouldn’t get too bad.
So it’s not like it’s this horrible thing to talk politics with them. Nobody is getting mad at anyone in the room (although we get mad at people not in the room, like politicians we disagree with) and we all still like each other afterward.
But after the conversation ended it felt so pointless. It actually reminds me of a movie with a really bad plot line called Vantage Point.
Vantage Point is one of the worst movies I ever saw in a theater. If you haven’t seen it I’ll spare you the pain and just summarize it for you:
The movie is about an assassination attempt on the President. The movie shows eight different viewpoints of the assassination attempt and each time the eight events unfold from the beginning to apparently reveal a different aspect of the truth.
So in other words, you see the same scene play over and over eight times! It feels ridiculous. I remember people actually booing it in the theater the 6th, 7th and 8th time the movie essentially started over from the beginning.
And this is what these political conversations and rants feel like. It’s like we’re talking about the same thing 7,8 or 100 times! And apparently there’s some element of the truth that someone is bringing to light to help “solve the problem.”
But nothing ever gets solved. And I’m not pointing fingers at anyone else but myself. I’m partaking in these talks just as much as anyone else. So I have to decide if it’s worth it to get so worked up about an issue and then turn around and do absolutely NOTHING about it.
Honestly, I don’t mind the uncomfortable situations politics can put you in. I don’t mind debating, arguing or trying to understand another viewpoint.
What I have a problem with is “me.” The fact I claim to care about these issues yet I do nothing about them.
Therefore, I’m going to issue a challenge to all of us: if we’re not willing to get in the arena and get our hands dirty and do something about the issue let’s refrain from being critics in the stands.
I don’t want to live my life as a critic. I want to be in the arena. This doesn’t mean I’ll be a politician or hold any sort of governmental role. It just means that if I really care about an issue I’ll take action vs just talking about stuff and reading about stuff.