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Opinion

September 27, 2013

FREY: Please keep it to yourself

Back in the day, my father taught me that there were two topics off limits while conversing with people.

The first one was politics.

The second one was religion.

My father always said that people (all people, not just some people) have deep, personal, and private feelings about both topics. Therefore, it was in my best interest to never bring either topic up at any time whatsoever (that would be during my entire life).

Listen without judgment, if I had to and there was no escape route, but do not comment. Take it all in and sift through it all, if I had to and there was no escape route, but do not comment. End of conversation.

It was one of my father’s many guidelines for living a peaceful life, a life devoid of drama and consternation. Eventually, many years down the road, and right before taking my last breath, the choice to avoid such conversations would have provided a life well-lived and well-spent.

My father added that if I chose to bring those topics up in conversation, the possibility existed that I could lose friends and alienate family members. Perhaps both.

He was serious.

I do not remember a time when my father ever discussed politics or religion with mixed company in a restaurant, at the grocery, on the street, on the sidewalk, in the car, in our home, in the workplace, during vacation, or while picnicking in the back yard.

My mother and I, it seems, were the only people on the face of the earth who were trustworthy enough to discuss such topics with him.

My father may have had a few choice words for President Jimmy Carter and his peculiar ascent to the White House. And he was not pleased in any way, shape or form when President Nixon sent those poor burglars into the Watergate Hotel in 1972 to spy on and steal important papers from the Democrats. But they were passing comments, asides really, mentioned calmly, but sternly, during dinner or while sitting on the front porch.

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