On controversial issues and people you know

“You support the death penalty?” I remarked, each word dripping with anger.

“Yes,” he said.

The conversation became something else then. Mostly because of me. And we never talked like normal people again. I was 19 and just began my second year in college. He was my roommate’s friend, attended community college, and had fallen in love. In love with my words and the way I said them eloquently in blog and through instant message. The attraction wasn’t mutual.

But you see, then, I didn’t know how to say things kindly to someone—whether they hurt me or angered me. I didn’t know how to say: I need some time away.

Instead, I found myself hunting for a contentious issue. An issue that would divide us. And most often the issues are the ones that Errol Louis from CNN describes as “a conversational dead-end, on which nearly all intelligent adults have already made up their minds.” That is, the issues of abortion, gay marriage, or death penalty. I swing extremely left on all of those, but as I have discovered, the world is diverse.

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