How To Keep The Peace With Opinionated Liberals

Donovan Nagel
Written by Donovan Nagel

When I left Australia to come to Georgia one of my resolutions was to avoid as much as humanly possible any discussion about political, religious, economic and social issues, and to focus solely on work and enjoying my time here.

I’ve realized more and more over the past year that arguing over these issues most often leads to hostility, damaged friendships and unnecessary stress over things that are out of my control.

However, I find it difficult to refrain from discussing these issues with people due to the fact that I’ve always been concerned about social justice issues and people inevitably ask for my opinion on a range of issues as soon as they find out that I’m a theology graduate (which for many people leads to the immediate assumption that I’m “far-right”).

I was doing well at avoiding these kinds of discussions until recently when friends starting seeking my opinion on the usual issues - immigration, women and homosexuality.

Also, being a volunteer program, there are predictably a small number of far-left, vocal know-it-alls over here who have tried to start arguments with me based on their own assumptions about what I believe and have been disappointed when I’ve avoided the discussion by changing the subject.

I’m not here to argue politics with people - I’m here to teach and expand my skills, to learn more about Georgia and of course, to drink myself silly.

I will say however that one of the most refreshing things about living in a place like Georgia is the complete non-existence of the disease of political correctness (surprising for a country that was only recently part of the Soviet Union), and the frankness and honesty of people here.

I’ve made the comment several times that Georgia is, in my opinion, a very liberal country - liberal in the sense that people here are free to give their opinions without being ’tagged’ as insert_tag_here-phobic (they haven’t resorted to this yet), men and women are free to be men and women (I’ll explain this in another post), and people are free to love and adore their nation without being pressured to feel ashamed of their nation’s history as we are - that in my opinion is a truly liberal society.

I love that every day here in songs, in classrooms, at home, in the street, and on television I constantly hear about Saqartvelo (Georgia).

They frequently express their pride for their country, national foods, churches and poets.

The concept of national guilt/shame or bad stigma attached to nationalism is utterly inconceivable in the minds of Georgian people which is the way it should be for every nation.

I stand by my conviction that educating children to be ashamed of past sins (well before they were born) is a recipe for a weak and demoralized society.

Anyway, most of the volunteers who are here seem to represent a wide spectrum of opinion and don’t look for arguments which is great, but it’s the vocal minority that get on my nerves.

These are the kinds of people (take this guy for example) who are desperate to export their ‘progressiveness’ to the rest of the world - they come to a place like Georgia, do nothing but criticize and insult it because it doesn’t live up to their pathetic ideals and then try to pick fights with people like myself because they feel insecure and threatened by opposing opinions.

As for an update on what’s been happening, we’re now in the week of Easter and people are getting ready for a weekend of feasting and spending time with their families.

I’ve been told that part of the Georgian Orthodox tradition is to visit cemeteries in memory of the Resurrection of Christ (that may be the same in all Orthodox branches but I’m not sure).

I’m curious to see it so I might try to get along to a cemetery on the weekend to take part in a service if time permits.