We can benefit from stirring the bucket
According to Chuck Todd, moderator of “Meet the Press,” a poll many years ago asked if it mattered to you if your son or daughter married someone of the other political party. The response? Five percent thought it would matter back then. Today, it’s over 50 percent.
What has happened?
Two things. First, the religious right took over the Republican Party. Second, Newt Gingrich introduced negative advertising.
Next came the result — each party developed a caricature of the other, which was helped along by more and more mediocre candidates running for office and promoting the distorted images. Soon we had Fox News emerge with the unapologetic mission of lying about everything it was convenient to lie about.
The Republicans’ fear of change produced a reaction in the Democratic Party. More and more of the very people Republicans were afraid of began running for office. This fall, there are more women and more people of color, and even Muslims and openly gay candidates running for office than ever before.
And so the thought of a member of the opposition party marrying into the family has become abhorrent to about half the population. Of course, that also means that half the population thinks otherwise. What might that other, more welcoming half be thinking? How do they process this differently?
I doubt that they are indifferent about it. After all, it does make for tense Thanksgivings! I think, though, that this more tolerant group looks to a higher level of things. They do not pigeon hole people by categories. Everybody is an individual, so let’s all step back and chill. They are also likely to have the capacity to discuss political issues without becoming manic. Bernie Sanders says that every family dinner should include a discussion of politics, because we live in a democracy that absolutely requires political awareness. I also think this group has more of a sense of humor. After all, there is a certain irony, and here I return to the luminous family gathering, when Thanksgiving brings together people who are ostensibly there because “it’s family,” but who are tense around each other and spend the evening trying to avoid words like “liberal” or “wingnuts” for fear of stirring the bottom of the tank.
One of my own family members thinks that politics should not be discussed within families because it divides people. Actually, it’s the truth that divides people, between those who are friendly to the truth, and those who have evolved their own, culturally conditioned, truth. Most of us are a mix of both. It’s also true, however, that it’s okay for the family to be divided.
Peace comes after the dissension, not before. So, lay to, Macduff!
Bill O’Brien is a Shamanic Practitioner and Consciousness Coach. He can be reached in Shepherdstown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-876-6071.