I try to stay away from politics and religion whenever possible (please stop snorting in your coffee).
Seriously, I do.
Too many are too offended too easily, and most times it's just better to pretend we're all on the same page, avoiding the elephant smoking Camels in the corner so we can each enjoy our respective beer in peace.
But sometimes - take now for instance - I feel compelled to express personal thoughts on both, especially since they are so closely related and slammed in our faces each day by virtue of being awake.
And by personal thoughts, I do of course mean firing synapses inside my own head, which some politicians and religious leaders unfortunately misconstrue as "commands from above."
Yes, they do.
Both claim voices in their heads tell them to do something, from running for political office to justifying horrific acts of violence to voting for a particular person to lead a group. Yet how many miss the fact, in the case of last week's conclave, that if they were all hearing the same voice, wouldn't the vote have been unanimous the very first time they passed around the hat?
I suppose we all hear what we want to hear. Anyway, many other comparisons are too obvious to ignore.
The extremists on both sides choose party over country, denomination over logic.
Neither can be trusted, especially in the realm of finance and conspiracy theories (corporations are people too, pedophilia scandals, the Illuminati, etc.).
Both are full of hypocrites shouting they don't want government in their medicine or gun cabinet, but think it is perfectly fine to have final say over a woman's womb or one's bedroom (Medicare or contraception, anyone?).
Both follow certain rituals that must be observed for no other reason than just because tradition says so (smoke signals, really?).
Both appear rigidly confident in their ideological concepts in public, yet question those same concepts whenever contacting or approaching me privately (happens much more often than you might think).
Both stubbornly adhere to specific issues in order to ignore other issues. For instance, those hanging on to the four tragic deaths in Benghazi ignore that over 100 U.S. military personnel have died in Afghanistan since that horrible September day in Libya.
Both claim superiority over any who think or believe otherwise. True knowledge is always on their side of the fence, and nothing you can do or say will ever sway the masses (yes, nothing screams faith louder than three-inch thick bulletproof glass in the pope mobile or loving the troops and the fetus, but ignoring the veterans and unwanted children).
Both, for the most part, are full of good intentions, yet neither can ever be proven to deliver on their promises.
Face it, people don't like their core principles being uprooted and contradicted, because it forces them to think outside the box provided by their parents, family members, friends, the local culture and environment they grew up around and anything else that contributed to making each one of us the exact person we are today.
Simple biology confirms no infant is born a Republican or Democrat any more than one is born a Muslim or a Christian. Asserting unassailable positions from birth is where all this nonsense sadly begins.
So for both I posit that if no change in reality can alter your political or religious convictions, then your convictions are not based in reality and should be re-assessed.
A concept missed by only some, but sadly ignored by most.
OK, I'm backing away slowly now ...
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.