People get offended. It happens. The world is not a Safe Space, and there is no way to "protect" people from opposing opinions. That being said, there are ways to discuss beliefs and hot topics without hurting other people. These issues matter, but only because people matter. We shouldn't drive people away over them.
1. Politics. Believe it or not, most of your friends are not amoral, even if they are planning on voting for a candidate you believe is evil. Their reasons may be baffling, but that has nothing to do with whether or not they are trying to do right by their country.
2. United States Presidential History. This means you should know what caused certain presidential decisions (who ended the Civil War? who ended the Cold War?who was responsible for the New Deal?). If you need a Crash Course on US History, click here.
3. Race in America. Learn how to discuss the struggles and victories of ethnic groups that are not your own.
4. Vaccinations. This one comes down to having a civil discussion. Remember that EVERYONE is trying to do the best they can for their child, and while I have a strong opinion about vaccinations, I also don't go around poking Mammas with a syringe.
5. LGBTQ+ issues. Just... remember when people's minds were changed by rock-throwing? Also, keep in mind that, when people ask for new rights, they are doing so because they feel endangered or threatened. If it was safe for everyone to use the bathroom of their birth sex, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
6. Islam. Repeat after me: not all Muslims are terrorists. Not most Muslims are terrorists. In fact, statistically speaking, you are far more likely to work or attend school with a rapist than you are to work with a terrorist.
7. Christianity. Not all Christians are bigots. Not most Christians are bigots. This is also a touchy subject for me - I love my faith and it hurts me to see so many people not get it. Everyone could use a little more compassion.
8. The Common Core. There are people who believe in what the Common Core is trying to do. There are others who think Lucifer is the head of the CCSS committee. Sensitivity is key. And, on this one, teachers get the loudest voice, because while parents are their children's biggest cheerleaders, teachers are the coaches. They know what's up.
9. Socio-economic issues. Remember that people grew up with the money they grew up with. We all come from different places and times, and that means that my experience as a white female is not my friends'.
10. GMO's. This is such a huge and complicated topic for such a short acronym. I've watched people spin out and rage against each other, only to find that the kind of GMO one person was defending as "GMO'S" was totally fine in the mind of their friend, who was picturing something totally different.
11. Mental illness. The mentally ill are... wait for it... ill. As in, needing care to recover. Have you met someone with allergies? Say, to cats? Mental illness comes and goes, it is not regular, and it does not lessen the value of the person who is suffering. Live in compassion and realize that you absolutely, positively know and love someone who suffers from mental illness, whether you realize it or not.
12. Sports. Trashing on sports teams is fine, and fun. Just be aware of anyone that might actually be getting heated. I know, it's a silly example, but if you keep your eyes open for someone who is getting hurt, you'll grow your compassion meter by miles.