I was listening to a caller on a radio show who was upset that a comedian was making fun of religion. And she reminded me of something you often hear: NEVER talk about money, politics or religion.
Only I think that is a bunch of BS. I agree that you should be aware of your audience and I try not to talk about these things in the formal work environment, though sometimes lunch conversations can get interesting.
BUT - As you can see from the blog labels for this blog - I love talking about these things! I just think you have to be sure to have the right audience.
I am so very thankful to have a group of friends who like to talk about money. I have learned so much about saving for retirement form this group of friends as we openly share our approaches and strategies. I think you should find people of similar economic levels because then you don't have to worry about people's feelings as specific dollars are talked. I for one now am much more comfortable talking about money and have no insecurities as I talk to folks who are quite wealthy or close to retirement and have millions of dollars saved. There are no hard feelings because I have spent a lot of time looking at my specific situation with the help of friends who like to offer advice or support and I am not insecure about our current situation - so I don't have any issues talking with people who are "better off". It's just real world - I don't believe we all have to be equal to have respect for one another and have intellectual conversations.
The same goes for religion. If I could pick one topic that I believe more people should discuss it would be spirituality. I think there are very few things in life that can be such a big part of your life that you had NO CONTROL OVER. Most people inherit their religious beliefs (and religion for that matter) from their parents. I believe at some point when we all grow up and become adults - that it is fair game to take a survey of what is offered globally by way of spiritual thinking and making a decision of what fits for you versus basically having that decision made for you when you are a child.
I think where this falls apart is where people are threatened or offended by other ways of thinking. To me I am all for everyone having their own ideas on religion - but the worst is when someone thinks their ideas should be adopted by others. I am happy to discuss the different views everyone has but at the end of the day I think it is about each person's individual connection to their spirituality.
So I am very thankful to have friends and family-in-law who are exploring different religious or spiritual ideas and discussing them or suggesting good books to read. I think 2009 will be a big year for me to do more meditating and reflect upon "me" more than other years where I have spent most of my energy externally (job, money, retirement, etc).
Politics is very fascinating to me because it combines religious and financial views into what people push for in public policy. The same warnings about money and religion apply but it gets even stickier. I am so thankful to have friends with various views who can openly talk about the trade-offs to all of our approaches.
I believe some of the best intellectual conversations include these 3 "taboo" topics and they encourage indivicual growth and acceptance of others. I would encourage everyone to completely ignore the advice to "never" talk about these topics - only find the right audience in your life to do so.