I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there is a difference between people and their politics. I don’t mean by that the obvious, that politics divides people. It can and it does. If I believe in capitalism and you believe in socialism, if I value union with Britain and you yearn for Irish ‘independence’ (I put that word in quotation marks for EU/IMF reasons), then naturally those differences will divide us. No, what I have in mind is the fact that if you can peer past someone’s politics, you often discover an interesting and different person from the one you had in your head.
I was reminded of this for the umpteenth time yesterday, when I found myself in the company of a person whose view of the political world is chalk to my cheese. We didn’t talk politics, or not directly, because you’re right, politics permeates everything to some degree. But by talking the way people might if they met on a train or in a pub, I soon discovered a human being surprisingly like myself, coping with or enjoying many of the same pains and pleasures.
George Bernard Shaw made this same point a lot more vividly, except I haven’t his quotation to hand and am too lazy/busy to be bothered hunting for it. In essence he said that very often, you find that those who share your political thinking can be a pain in the arse, while those whose political thinking you firmly reject can often be people towards whom you instinctively warm.
In the words of a politician whom I really detest: it’s a funny old world.