OPINION: What Roles Do Politics and Religion Play In Your Life?

Herbie J Pilato

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Remember the days before social media took over the world; when people used to mind their own business and respect an individual’s right to pick, choose and not share every single thought they have ever had?

It may be healthier to get back to that because, in many instances across the present landscape, lifelong friendships, working relationships, and families are falling and being torn rigidly apart due to political and religious opinions like nobody’s business — which is really what it used to be.

Unfortunately, when it comes to religion and politics in particular, some, more than others, like to fight, argue and battle it out over the many times only trendiest of topics. The haters just can’t wait to bring it on.

But what does this kind of thinking accomplish? How is it productive?

Nothing and it’s not.

The blue-meanies of the world are either possessed by any number of their personal demons, spiritual and otherwise, as they seek to wreak havoc at every political, religious, professional or personal turn. Do we really need to fuel such bullying desires by letting others get our collective goat?

No, we don’t. We really don’t.

“No,” To “God Bless You” But “Yes” To Taking The “Lord’s Name in Vain”?

But you know something, too? Bullying takes many forms. Some are not so subtle. Some are too subtle to notice.

For example, some people feel uncomfortable when after they sneeze, someone else says, “God bless you.” Yet, at other times, that same individual who felt discomfort being blessed may feel it completely appropriate when the same language takes a different turn towards cursing and the addition of the word “damn.”

In some religious sectors, such language is considered profane and insulting to millions of people around the world associated with a particular religion.

Why is that?

And then there’s the daily prayer thing and how it’s been taken out of public school activity while taking the Lord’s name is brought into the casual, everyday conversation on a frequent basis.

Why is that?

When I was growing up, I was raised to not hate anyone, no matter who they were or what they believed in. Neither of my parents spoke a hateful word about any individual of any other political, religious or cultural affiliation of their own. And if they did have any such issues with any such opposing individuals, personal or otherwise, I never saw it. Or better said, they never displayed any such behavior or opinions in front of me because they tried to raise me by example.

And I was bullied as a kid, which was a drag. And sometimes I’m still bullied as an adult and it’s still a drag.

But through the years, what my parents taught me remains solid. In my youth, when some bully would attack me, verbally or physically, the latter of which transpired only a few times, I would want to retaliate in some way. But my mom would tell me, “Don’t you dirty your hands, Herbie J. Don’t you be like them.”

And I have remained loyal to that wise and evolved advice to this day, and it has worked in my favor — for the highest good of all concerned.

In looking back on certain other associations, however, of the failed romantic nature, for example (and there’s been more than a few of those), in most instances the relationship disintegrated not so much because I and the opposing party were incompatible on the Zodiac scale (which was often the case), or not because we were spiritually or religiously unaligned (which kinda’-sorta’ was also often the case). But the relationship dissolved mostly because it simply was not meant to be. (Yeah — ethereal destiny is a real thing in my book of life and career). Different personal or professional objectives were also the culprits at times, or there may have been an assortment of issues here and there that simply proved insurmountable in some way.

In such scenarios, love did not conquer all — and that was okay. Lives moved on. Most of the time the delicate situation at hand was gingerly navigated with respect and care for all those concerned. Even when there was if just a minuscule measure of animosity, neither uninterested party sought havoc or revenge on any wide-spread scale or basis, certainly not as easily and accessibly so as it transpires today. Yeah, maybe Maryjane told her best-friend Patti Lou about how much of a jerk Johnny Frick or Bobby Frack was while they were dating, or how he finally did her wrong. But such observations or transgressions were never fully chronicled in detail for distribution anywhere for any kind of the online posterity or eternity that exists with contemporary communication devices today.

In Summary

Back in the day, any and all kinds of relationships failed or succeeded discreetly before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and super-smart phones began to record every inch of the journey, whether those travels included a stop at Pizza Hut (think Domino’s), or because someone watched any (bad) form of Jabba the Hut (think original Star Wars trilogy) on any size screen or mobile device.

Again — it never used to be anyone’s business who anyone envisioned in any romantic notion (my father also used to tell me, “Never tell anyone who you like!”), political office, locally or nationally, while religion was never dare mentioned at the dinner table unless indeed it was a religious Last Supper discussion over the Easter holiday when any good Catholic or Christian would be open to sharing their equal mutual love for Jesus.

But if you didn’t believe in Jesus, Moses, Budha, Yoda, or Mr. Spock, nobody knew about it, because such affiliations were considered private and not open to topics of conversation. Today, sadly, no subject matter is off-limits, and everything is open for debate. An uneasy and too-open a-spirit has infiltrated the airwaves and modern communication devices around the globe, all monitored by satellites via the direst of space invasions.

In contemporary times, we are the aliens who have landed — and we can’t stop talking about each other for all the Universe (the You-and-I-in-Verse) to see and hear. What once was private is public; what once was personal is fair game across the board; what once was intimate is now judged without a jury; what once was forgotten is now remembered for all the wrong reasons; what once was considered bully behavior is now acceptable and defined as hip and cool.

We may have developed remarkable forms of affordable technology, but at what cost? The price of our very souls — whether we believe we have one — or not? For the religious or the atheists? For the rich or the poor? The Haves or the Have-nots? The homeless or hungry or the gluttons or gluten-free? The artists or scientists? The ill or the healthy? The protected or attacked? The lost and the lonely, the found and the popular, the profound and trite?

What’s the answer? If only could all be as simple as watching Jeopardy on TV as opposed to being at constant risk of it — in the real-life midst of it.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, writes for the Television Academy and Emmys.com, and is the host of THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA
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