The discussion of politics sometimes feels somewhat like defense being played - a little like the gif above. On my team, politics is an unavoidable and often amusing discussion. Usually, it consists of Ronald Reagan fanboys regaling a time they never experienced and awkward posturing regarding topics such as “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Sometimes, the topics become absurd, such as why the US should have Brazil as a primary ally during World War Three (we shouldn’t).
With the current political atmosphere, politics is as divisive as ever, and coming from team with a lot of political opinions, navigating that can be complicated. The obvious answer is: avoid it! However, what’s the fun in that? Sometimes, talking politics (and even religion) can be an entertaining use of time as the build season hours get longer and longer.
Firstly, be civil. Whether or not there’s consensus on a subject isn’t an excuse to lose your temper or your humanity. While politics may be interesting to talk about, it’s not an excuse to throw punches.
Additionally, if you have another team member purposely being antagonistic, don’t take the bait. There’s no reason to take the low road. If you think the discussion could lead into a fight, don’t begin the discussion.
Admit when you’re wrong! This one goes whether or not you’re talking about politics, especially when regarding misinformation. You can definitely learn something new when talking to someone about issues that really matter to them, and make sure you keep phrases like, “I hadn’t thought of it like that,” in your arsenal. There’s always more to learn!
Be compassionate! Many people are personally affected by political issues which leads to differing views on the subject. Everyone has reasons for why they believe the things they do. Of course, if someone is diminishing your humanity, there’s no reason for this, but make sure to have empathy when discussing something controversial.
Know when to walk away! Whether it’s just not the right time for politics in the shop or you can’t personally handle it - that’s OK! After all, there is a robot to build!
Being cramped together with your team isn’t always a fun experience, but take the opportunity to learn from others and make sure that they learn from you too.
-Kiran L. 2826
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.