When making light conversation, there are several go-to topics. Just small talk, like how are you doing, have you noticed this weather, I like your shirt. Simple things that will start simple talking. Small talk topics do not include things like death, racism, and politics. Why? Because these topics are too large and important to be condensed into a passing conversation. The problem is that they are also too full of passionate triggers to be put into a regular conversation either. When people talk about hot issues, the exchange can quickly turn into angry chaos or uncomfortable silence. So, when do these potent issues get discussed? Not nearly enough, because humans avoid uncomfortable things, and heavy topics tend to drag our happiness down with them.
The problem that is created by this vacuum of communication is that the original issues don’t get resolved. You cannot just ignore something and hope it goes away. Trouble doesn’t disappear if you ignore it. These things need to be talked about, talked through with good friends or counselors. However, no one wants to talk about it because whenever you crack open the can of a potent topic, it can lead to arguments or bad feelings.
We can learn a lot about how to approach difficult topics from children’s books. There are many wonderful books that exist that deal with heavy topics without letting those things drag the book down into the realms of tragedy. One that comes to mind is Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White. In the book, several main characters are struggling with death. Wilbur might get eaten for dinner, and Charlotte’s predictably short life as a spider quickly comes to an end. However, the characters face their dilemmas with determination, and the reader learns new lessons about mortality.
Charlotte’s Web succeeds in teaching important lessons because the overall tone of the book stays happy and giggles with hope. Powerful negative emotions do sometimes inspire change, but on the flip side, people that are overcome with these emotions don’t listen to reason. These topics do not get better understood if there isn’t a good growing environment. Just like a plant, if a subject is only watered with angry words and sad, non-constructive passion, it’s not going to grow to be very healthy.
Yes, this society needs passionate thinkers. Heavy topics are going to be automatically accompanied by negative feelings, and it has become the social norm to embrace and perpetuate those feelings, especially on social media. A person looks apathetic if they aren’t passionately bothered by something like police brutality. However, getting bothered and angry doesn’t fix the problem, it just makes it worse. People don’t want to talk about an issue if every time someone brings it up arguments seem to erupt where everyone strangely seems to be arguing the exact same points over and over again. Instead of angry and distraught humans, we need passionately optimistic humans. Passionately helpful humans. Passionately caring people, wanting to make the world a better place, and willing to talk about its problems without creating the worst environment for talking about problems.
Heavy topics tend to drag conversations down, but they don’t have to.
If we actively try to stay positive and help each other, we can actually say things that need to be said without causing more hate. Making time to talk about important things is a necessity, and it can lead to many great conversations of a hopeful future.