I am proudly – and often loudly – a woman of passion. How I love, how I work, how I discuss an issue are all done with passion. Fortunately, my friends and associates have come to appreciate this part of my personality, even though they may not always agree with me.
When I decide to make time in my life for a new project or non-profit program or political issue, I am all in – and have never really understood people who are not.
Why would you choose to support a charitable cause if it didn’t excite you? How do you start a new project (either at work or as a hobby) and make the decision to do it half way? How can you hear about injustice (in your town or on the other side of the world) and not be moved to action?
If you’ve been following 360Women, you’ve already heard me go after political candidates who do not support women and their challenges. You also know I am fully committed to the availability of affordable women’s healthcare and equal pay for women in the workplace. Period.
These are not issues often discussed quietly over a glass of wine sitting poolside before the neighborhood barbeque. These are issues that require a passionate debate and passionate commitment to choosing political candidates – both locally and nationally – who are equally committed to supporting and driving real change. Real change only happens in the voting booth.
Of course, this passion of mine has frequently driven my wonderful husband past the breaking point. Plenty of conversations in the car on our way to a cocktail party or dinner event have begun with his favorite opening line: “How about we make it an easy evening and avoid talking politics?”
The translation is simple: Please let other people talk about their children or grandchildren or Giants or Warriors. Please do not create any tension with your passionate opinions on healthcare or politics or social issues.
For many wives, this is the kind of remark that could ruin most social events before you and your partner even arrive. But I am not one of those wives and now offer another remark you may never see again in print (at least from me):
My husband is right.
As passionate as I am about all of the important causes in my life, my neighborhood and my world, the person sitting next to me as my dinner partner shouldn’t have to prepare to defend himself after the first course. If you want to discuss your passions and political opinions effectively and successfully, then you have to find the appropriate venue. I live in San Francisco and the one thing we’re not short of is places that allow us to express our thoughts on new laws, issues and causes.
But the need for restraint cuts both ways and if you’ve ever been to a dinner party, you know exactly what I mean.
Imagine: I have been the perfect dinner guest, asking the person to on left about her children or recent remodeling project, and am suddenly sideswiped by the person across the table: “What do you think about this crazy election?” Or “I noticed you’re a little political on Facebook.” Or “So, what’s the latest on Women’s Rights front?”
When you’re a passionate person surrounded by old friends, they already know how you feel about controversial subjects. So, if they’re going to bait you with intentionally inflammatory questions, they deserve whatever answers you fire back.
In the interest of fairness, you know this provocateur also had the same conversation in the car with their partner on the drive over – with a slightly different opening: “Please don’t bait anyone with one of your killer questions over dinner, OK?”
Here’s what I’ve learned about being a passionate person: The world needs us. Passionate people get involved in an effort to drive real change, and our willingness to risk it all and go all in becomes part of our personal legacy. Regardless of the actual results we might ultimately produce, every person should be grateful that passionate souls exist in a world where it is always easier to remain silent and placid.
At the same time, I’ve also learned there is a place and a time to show your passion and we need to find those places. Your host at that elegant dinner party did not spend all day cooking and cleaning so you and another guest could screw it all up with your heated and disrespectful conversation.
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion or in philosophy as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson