By Don Neufeld, board member of Mennonite Men and therapist who works with men; Hans Peters, coordinator for Mennonite Men Canada; and Steve Thomas, coordinator […]
Jeffrey Newcomer Miller attends Albuquerque (N.M.) Mennonite Church.
I recently attended a family wedding with many extended family members. It was such a delight to re-connect with family that I’ve not seen in years and to introduce them to our new son, eat familiar foods, watch football and have hours and hours of coffee conversation. I find my family a delight and know them as salt of the earth people. I believe if there were more of them on this earth, things would be better.
Recently, I’ve noted that the topic of politics is becoming more and more prominent in these family gatherings. Additionally, it’s becoming more and more apparent that there are “gaps” between what each of us believes and feel is right when it comes to the topic of politics. This is even more of a rich conversation since some of my family call Canada home and they have undergone their own version of political change.
No doubt this recent election season was riddled with negativity and it seemed to bring out the worst in our political pundits and even in ourselves. I found myself feeling more negative about this election season than in any recent past elections. I didn’t want to succumb to my gut instincts, but I felt like this election season brought me down to my lowest form of thinking.
I’m learning to be grateful for this deficiency, especially when I feel like the family member sitting across from me is absolutely wrong. It’s in these moments, when we have both sipped our coffee and for some reason I’ve brought up the topic of immigration, that I have to remember the above truth – that I’ve been wrong in the past and I’ll continue to be wrong.
With the above in mind I encountered an article, recently, that I found helpful regarding some “ground rules” for engaging in political discussions, or any sensitive subject matter – particularly with family. This is taken from an online blog at Life Hacker . I hope you find these rules as helpful as I did.
I put these rules into practice at my recent family gathering and even though we were all across the board on our views, it seemed that the conversation remained civil and maybe we even learned a bit from each other. I certainly gained an appreciation for my family members and the depth of thinking that is present.
I find this a wonderful thing, but it can certainly cause some “rifts” in family coffee conversation. May you all find time with family to be enriching and engaging and most importantly may you be able to speak your mind knowing that you’ll be able to keep your own cool in the face of differing views and expressions.
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