Small talk is very big these days and I’d like to blame this on the US invasion of Iraq. Not that I don’t enjoy generalized conversation. I’m actually quite good at it – heck, I can talk about horses until the cows come home!
But seriously, it’s tricky belonging to a country at war. War forces each of us to choose which camp to call home; you’re either for it or against it. The worst part for me is when I realize that I’m becoming friends with someone from the other camp.
We’ve all been there; things have been going along great and then you reach that point of knowing; that moment when the one thing you DON’T have in common floats to the surface like a turd in a punch bowl. In that moment you must decide whether to test the friendship or take a step backwards and freeze it at the acquaintance level.
I know others struggle with this phenomenon. I see it in their eyes when they scramble to keep the conversation light. It reminds me of that game kids play with a balloon – you know, the one where you can’t let the balloon hit the ground. Our words take a turn in the wrong direction and we’re all thinking: “Watch out! We’re starting to talk about something that may lead to unstable ground! Quick, change the subject to something light – keep it up in the air!”
It ‘s a catch 22. If I choose to forge ahead, sharing my feelings, I will only widen the gap between us and if I choose to avoid the topic of war and peace I compromise trust, and eventually respect. Either way, we are destined to remain polarized.