Discuss Amongst Yourselves: Ten Alternatives to Fighting Over Politics

It probably won’t ever happen. I understand that, and I understand the reasons why. So don’t think me naive. But I can still wish, can’t I?

If you’re looking for reasons to stop fighting about politics, then ask your cohorts on social media and elsewhere if they’re willing to have a conversation about any of the following questions without hostility or attack, and merely in pursuit of the truth as you best understand it.

Sooner or later, after all, we have to stop shouting, screaming, threatening and name-calling. Even if these issues remain hopelessly unresolved, it still beats civil war, doesn’t it?


Question # 1: Assuming we should have a government, what should the role of that government be, and why? What’s good and bad about having a government at all?

Question # 2: When someone’s in need, is it right to force one person to take care of that need by enlisting the help of another? Or should that help always be voluntary? Why or why not?

Question # 3: When is war justified? Is it ever justified? Why or why not?

Question # 4: Should government only do what’s specified in the Constitution, including any amendments added over time? Or should government do more than that, on the assumption that it’s always a “living, evolving” Constitution? Why or why not? If the latter, then how do we keep government from getting totally out of control, as under a Nazi, Communist or other totalitarian regime?

Question # 5: What causes income inequality? Is it only a bad thing, or are there good things about it? What are the reasons for unequal income? Are any of those reasons justified? Why or why not?

Question # 6: Should marriage even be defined by the government? Is it better to let individuals — so long as they’re consenting adults — decide the definition of marriage, or should the government define marriage as a majority see fit? What happens when there’s no clear majority that agrees on the definition?

Question # 7: When does life begin? Does it begin at conception, for example? Or sometime during the woman’s pregnancy? (If so, at what time?) Or does life begin only upon birth? Is it even possible to determine? Does it make sense for individual rights under the law — however one defines those — to be protected before birth or upon birth, and why?

Question # 8: Are we allowed to put into our bodies whatever we wish, even if it’s unhealthy and self-destructive? Or should government set a limit on that? If so, what should that limit be, or should there be no limit? Right now we have the right to eat unhealthy foods and drink alcohol to any degree we wish, so long as we don’t drive drunk. But we’re not allowed to use heroin, cocaine or (in some cases) marijuana, not at all. Why the legal distinction and what’s the principle defining it? Heroin can kill you, but so can a bad diet. What’s the difference legally?

Question # 9: Is it wrong for companies or businesses to do things that make it harder to compete, even when those companies are not lying to anyone and all of their customers are willing? For example, if there’s one grocery store in a town that pleases everyone (unlikely), is it wrong for that grocery store not to have any competition? Should the government intervene when there’s only one of something, even when there’s always freedom to open a competing business?

Question #10: Is discrimination always and automatically wrong? Is it sometimes good to discriminate, as in between good and bad people, toxic and unhealthy versus pleasant and reasonable people? Are personal preferences a form of discrimination, too? Should the government play a role in making these decisions? Why or why not? What’s the limit on government’s right and obligation to do this, if any, and why?

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