My daughter just reminded me that many employers have it as a condition of employment that you cannot be involved in a political campaign or other political activity, including visibly supporting a candidate in something as local as a civic election in your town. I suppose the thinking is that overt political beliefs  and support might offend potential or existing clients, partners and stakeholders.  While it’s not exactly something that is top of mind for me on a daily basis, it did give me pause today, the morning after I attended the mayoral campaign kickoff here at home.

The question I’m posing is this:  if you are going to do business with someone, work for someone or work with someone, don’t you want to know what they stand for? What is so shameful about our firmly held beliefs and political positions? Yes, we won’t all agree and yes, it might cause some friction, but what’s the benefit of working with people harbouring secret opinions and beliefs which may very well colour how they relate to you and your needs?

Sadly, and I hate to become another denouncer of social media’s many ills, the ability to flame someone on social media’s various platforms discourages honest exchanges of opinion. Not only that but we have come to the point where we are always right and therefore, everyone else must be completely wrong.  There is no middle ground, the centre does not hold.

It would be nifty if I had a solution to this problem but it has become a Herculean task to turn the tide away from confrontational, in your face aggression online. We even see it in social settings where the previously diplomatic neighbour politely refused to argue a point over the fence and agreed to disagree. Now we’re more likely to engage in a rant and refuse to hear the other side. It started out as a bad idea and now has become simply self-defence as our identity is tied to our opinions and beliefs, and feels threatened when challenged.  There’s no time for thoughtful discourse, just time to throw a bag of flaming dog-shit over the hedge.

What we could do is allow people to state their beliefs, support their candidates and work their campaigns, without punishing them for having beliefs they’re willing to exercise.