Well, since it’s both Presidents’ Day and the first week of Lent, I figured now would be a good time for this. It’s time for a discussion that simultaneously touches on easily the two most controversial, heated, and polemic topics ever to grace human society: video game consoles and fandoms. Wait, no…religion and politics, that’s it. Religion and politics.
Some indeterminate time in the past, I remember reading something about an opinion poll asking people if they would vote for a person of a particular demographic for President (you know, “would you vote for somebody as President if he/she were gay, Muslim, etc.”). I didn’t see the original poll nor do I remember the exact results, but I do recall them being pretty pathetic. Personally? I really don’t care that much. It doesn’t matter what race a possible candidate is, nor what gender (male? female? nonbinary?) or sexuality (hetero/homo/bi/a/pan/whatever-sexual), if the person is suitable for the job. And religion? So what? I’d vote for a Christian president, but I also wouldn’t mind voting for one who was Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, agnostic, atheist…heck, I’d even vote for a pagan or Wiccan president if I thought they’d be good for the country.
But you know whom I wouldn’t vote for? An evangelist. The thing about religion is that, like any other set of beliefs that a person can have, it’s perfectly fine until it starts interfering with other people’s lives and rights. That can be true of anything else as well. For instance, what if you believe that babies are great in lasagna? As a citizen of the United States, you can believe such a thing is true. Most people will likely consider you a psycho if you bring it up in public, but it’s not against the law to have that opinion. It’s only when you act on it that it becomes a problem. If other people don’t want their infants chopped up and served with ricotta and tomato sauce (and even if they do, considering that that would qualify as murder, which is against the law, not to mention basic human dignity), it is most certainly not your place to do it anyway, no matter how convincing your argument may be for the extensive health benefits of having a daily serving of baby-flesh lasagna. An extreme example, perhaps, but you can see the parallel. If you’re trying to convince people that your religion or sect is the best or the only correct one, perhaps some people will agree with you, follow you, and maybe even be better off for it. But if somebody doesn’t, you keep pushing it anyway, they react negatively, and you get offended about it, then you are the problem. Maybe that person’s soul would be saved if they converted, or maybe it wouldn’t, but being too insistent when they are clearly not interested in listening will likely be about as effective as trying to convince children to like liver by force-feeding it to them. They are far less likely to think that you’re a servant of a higher power come to save them than they are to think that you’re an obnoxious jerkwad who doesn’t know when to shut up. That goes for other things as well. Do you smoke? If so, well, it’s your respiratory system, not mine. If, on the other hand, you start getting your toxic particulates in my airspace, messing with my physical health…well, I won’t feel bad about ripping a nasty, smelly fart near you. (It also might concern me if, for instance, you were someone I wanted to kiss, but your lips tasted like the aftermath of a chemistry experiment gone horribly wrong.)
So, what does all this have to do with voting? Everything. The point is that if something about a person doesn’t affect anyone else adversely, especially you personally, it really shouldn’t be any of your business, and that it’s possible to disagree with a person’s beliefs and/or lifestyle without disparaging them. And that comes back to what I was saying about the election; if a presidential candidate’s personal beliefs are going to affect other people negatively (for instance, if a candidate is clearly biased against a certain demographic, especially in a cruel manner), then sure, they can be figured into the equation…but things like what color their skin is, what their Kinsey scale rating is, or what higher power they worship (if any), most of the time, really should not be worth worrying about.
(Note: Because people may ask, no, this is not directed at any particular person. It’s just a general statement.)