It’s the time of the year when we condescend to each other. At the holiday we all gather together with our families, and for most of us, that probably means getting together with some loved ones who hold beliefs that make you do a spit take, even when you’re not drinking anything.
Some people rectify this paradox, loving someone who supports something indefensible (Trump, Hillary… Belichick), by being openly hostile to the family members of a different political hue. If you’re of this school of thought, bless you for your consistency, but yikes; I can’t hate my racist grandma, Baba Oh, and I’m not going to change her mind, so let’s just try and enjoy what time she has left.
Others have taken the odd route of trying to “learn to talk” to their crazy relatives. This is a politically inspired version of condescension where you go to your party of choice’s website for talking points shaped to fit your brand of family crazy. “Uncle Todd, it’s not that I think you’re a racist, it’s just your views on the Syrian refugee crisis are somewhat similar to this guy Hitler’s. Have you heard of Hitler?” It’s not that this method won’t work, it’s just… sorry, I was trying to reform it in a way that would fit your method, but that method doesn’t work. So no, it won’t work, and it will piss them off and ruin dinner.
Let me suggest this holiday season that you do the opposite of any of these strategies, which are based on bringing the acrimony of the outside world into your holiday homes, and do the opposite; try and bring the harmony of your holiday table back to Facebook and whatever other place you waste your time yelling into the void. We’re so used to looking at our loved ones through the lens of what we’ve learned on the web, which is that they’re backwards idiots full of hate, that we forget to look at the hateful idiots we meet on the web through the lens of our loved ones. You know in your heart you love these people for reasons beyond their political beliefs. Is it just possible the rest of the world is pretty great, too? So instead of trying to change minds at the dinner table, try bonding and finding out what experiences have brought us to this place where we have such different outlooks on life.
Maybe the ranting loon on that comments page is actually a pretty decent dude with a niece or nephew just like you. And maybe, some disturbing points of view not withstanding, they’re really just pretty decent people who have a different life experience than you. Because if I’m right and they are, the only hope we have for bridging some gaps is to stop treating each other like morons and hate-filled loons.
Or it’s possible I’m wrong and that online commenter is a hate-filled, moronic loon and we’re all doomed. Either way, my method will lead to a more peaceful dinner. Happy holidays, stay truthful.
By Sidney Reilly