We were happy to be guests last weekend for a dinner party held by someone from our church. She invited several of us in the young adult class (some married, some single) to dinner at her house. Our favorite priest was also there. Plus, we've wanted to connect more with these same people and have more of a sense of community, especially among other young married couples.
Everything was fine and dandy (in my book) until the host said that it was time for us, one by one, to go around the dinner table and reveal who we were planning to vote for. My husband was wise and said he hadn't decided yet and wasn't informed enough yet (which is true). I was the only person at the table to say I really liked a person from one certain political party. Every single other person at dinner really liked candidates from the opposite party. I am a registered independent voter. I have to admit, I'm pretty cynical about politics. I, too, feel not as informed as I hope to be on election day. I'm also weary of the whole thing and not very loyal to any specific party. I care more about individuals and certain issues. Narrow the field down to two candidates, then I'll select the lesser of two evils. I don't have a lot of faith that electing certain people will completely change our country or our life. We feel pretty divided as a nation, to me. And, I also feel cynical that even if a bunch of changes are pushed through with one president, they might be overturned by the next one or by Congress. It makes me very pessimistic. That's how I feel about politics. If I could refrain from voting in good conscience, I would. I vote because I feel a moral obligation to.
Well, you could have heard crickets at this point in the dinner party. The host's husband (jokingly) told me that I could see my way out when I gave my answer. "There's the door," he said. I tried to take it all in stride, but this conversation led to about 30 more minutes of political discussion, some of it directed at my supposedly faulty notions. I noticed our priest stopped talking after giving his answer.
"So, Bridget, how's your love life? Why are there so many women your age still single?"
*If you've seen Bridget Jones, this is exactly how I felt when answering the political question.*
After that point, the conversation then turned to...how much money people in our given professions make. While we weren't required to go around the table and give answers to that question directly, several of the people there gave their two cents. Suffice it to say that as a person working in higher education, married to an artist, I now know for a fact that we make way less money than everyone else there, except for the priest..not that we revealed that information. But most others there felt free to say a "starting salary" in their field is in the range of X-Y. I, for one, had sticker shock. Of note, after about 30 minutes of silence during the political discussion and making a joke about his salary, our priest promptly left.
So, is this conversation in bad form? I know that politics and religion are not the most politically correct topics to discuss. However, the only way we know one another is from sharing a religion, so maybe our host figured politics wasn't a big jump. But...delving in to how much money people make?! I thought it was tacky and embarrassing...maybe because, aside from the priest, we were clearly the lowest earners there. I'd wager to guess that I have more degrees than anyone at that table, but no one ever gets degrees in music for the sake of earning lots of money. Still, it left an odd taste in my mouth.
I really believe that our host is someone who likes to talk about controversial things. She has no problem disagreeing with people, and in fact, I think that's how she naturally communicates. It's difficult for someone like me not to take it personally when she disagrees with every statement I make. Gretchen Rubin would say that she is someone who uses oppositional conversation style. While I still find this conversational style a bit exhausting, I do understand it better with this paradigm in mind and try to accept this person the way she is.
I don't know how much money my friends, or even family members, make. I'm sure, like a person's age or weight, you could probably make an educated guess. After last weekend, my notions of what the average person makes should probably be multiplied by two or three. I do tend to know people's political leanings, not from asking directly, but because they share their views as related to certain issues, current events, as it naturally arises in conversation, or from their blatant posts on Facebook. Maybe I would feel differently about the whole evening if I agreed with everyone else's politics or if I made a much higher salary in alignment with theirs (three to five times the salary I do.)
But, still...is it okay to discuss who you're voting for and how much money you make, even among friends?