Friday, February 22, 2019

The Value of Familial Political Discussions

After the dinner dishes had been cleared the family did what it always does during and after such events, it talked.  And while the poltergeists typically take the night off when we gather as such, on this night there was mischief in the air as images of an orange complected man swirled about the room and hovered for tense moments above that same space that just minutes before had been occupied by pizza and crisp, delicious salads.

We have been warned to avoid such topics for the sake of our mental health, for there is something about that particular orange specter that coaxes out of the best of us the worst of our natures.

Numerous articles are written prior to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays on how families should either avoid all such discussions or, conversely, can use the holidays as platforms to convince others of their transgressions and thought crimes.  Chapters of psychology books could easily be dedicated to either of these dysfunctions.

And so it was that warnings went unheeded and territory best left unexplored was invaded, first haltingly, and then in a stampede of words and emotions and histrionics that would make the press jealous were it aimed at a staged Windy City hate crime.

I've been thinking about this for the past few days.

I have historically been an advocate of avoiding these conversations altogether but I might become a supporter of these potential food fights even if we could gain something for a a reason other than the convincing of others. 

The importance of these discussions to an unraveling nation is not in the evangelism itself but in the context of that evangelism and that it takes place within the comfort of familiarity and acceptance.  When the dust and spittle settles we should be able to recognize that there are good and decent people on both sides of every argument (except the alt-right and hardened abortion advocates--they suck and should eat outside.)

Where else can we realistically and confidently be exposed to this evidence?

Outside of the family unit and the civil society it is almost impossible because we have to know people with some certainty before we can discern their character. At a distance this is not always possible.  An example is the talking head on television than can portray his decency and wisdom with measured words without any of his dedicated viewers knowing that he has installed a remote locking mechanism on his office door in a scheme to trap potential harassment victims inside the lair.

As such we put too much confidence in unknown professionals with advance degrees in influence and indoctrination while discounting those we know more closely.  It is only after we learn that the kind newsman on the tube is actually a sexual predator that we can give his opinions a worthy trust.

I'm not saying that Aunt Alice is a foreign policy expert or that Cousin Billy III has studied climate science.  What I am saying is that Alice and Billy(3) represent to us people in the flesh who we know to be decent people and whose characters cannot be dismissed or besmirched as evil because of their viewpoint on Al Gore's carbon footprint.

Their history of caring over skinned knees and bruised egos is more important than any political opinion on topics over which they have very little influence or experience. And yet they know at least as much as you or I do. What should shine through is the decency of those we know and love.

In an age where the family unit is ever more attacked and where politics is becoming ever more divisive, the family is ever more important for the glue it provides. The family proves to us that familiarity can transcend the division of politics and that forceful opinions, while often times delivered without the politeness we intend, do not place a value on our souls. 

Prior to the reign of King Donald most families across America were able to scoop peas and mashed potatoes into gaping maws without having to worry overmuch about them being coughed up again in a gale of political indignation and grievance.

Though the age has changed and the atmosphere is less temperate than it used to be, we should try to understand that those with differing political opinions are not by default the Hitlers of old. 

If the family and civil society can not accomplish this than nothing can.  And if nothing can accomplish it there are truly rough waters ahead. 

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