Thursday, November 1, 2018

Thanksgiving I: Getting Political...ish



Good morning! I am so excited we’ve made it back to November.  Personally, it’s been a great year for me. Though I have to admit I feel out of sync with the world as so many problems loom large over our heads.  I wrote like three painfully long and detailed posts but I don’t think they’re worth publishing.  My rule is if something I’ve written is too boring for me to read back to myself, I’m certainly not about to ask you to bother!  
October arrived late and lingers, but yesterday morning was purely November!
What I love most about Thanksgiving is that is not ever as set as Christmas.  Thanksgiving has room to grow, allows for tweaks to be made, and is forgiving.  My Thanksgiving may be heavily labored over but the beauty of the holiday is that all it needs to be is a gathering, a meal. 


I think it’s the elemental that we so desperately need these days.  Everything is so inflated, so hot, and so contentious.  My advice for holidays has always been to keep politics off the table.  What good could come from it?  I’ve changed my mind.  I think families need to have the tough conversations about political identity and how we’ve handed our country over to the far side of either party.  I think I’ll have ten for Thanksgiving this year, of those ten I know that four are staunch democrats, four are staunch republicans, one doesn’t care, and the other is me.  What am I? I don’t like the term independent but  I’m certainly not a democrat but I’m not a modern Republican either.  I kind of feel like I’m still at the Grand Ol’ Party but all by myself.  I really want to see if I can manage a discussion about gun control at Thanksgiving?  I’d rather know where my family is on that than who’s golfing where this winter.  As I see it, gun control is our single largest problem and should be the easiest to fix.  I am a strict constitutionalist so I am not at all about taking all the guns away.  In fact I wish way more women had guns.  But I see the biggest problem in our country as the NRA.  I think at this point in time, gun manufacturers should be held more responsible for what their products are capable of doing.  There’s just no need for assault rifles.  


As Heather says, the only way out is through and I feel I need to be doing more on this journey in bringing another view to the table rather than letting the extremes cancel each other out.  Keeping to ourselves and like-minded cohorts has only made things worse.  What do you think? Do you think it can happen? A civil, sane discussion on gun control? Politics at your table?

Thanksgiving is always a little different.  How will yours be different this year?


38 comments:

  1. Not sure how ours will be different--haven't thought that far ahead?

    Maybe set a timer for each person to speak as you go around the table? Round 1: 2 minutes per person, no one gets to interrupt. Round 2: 2 minutes per person, respond to a point that someone else brought up. Again, no one gets to interrupt. Round 3: 2 minutes per person, think outside the box and reach for some solutions. Again, no one gets to interrupt.

    You see the theme here. Difficult discussions CAN be had, but parliamentary-ish (very "ish") procedures can help foster real discussion w/out having things fall apart.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I think that’s a great idea, I think we’ll definitely need some parameters. Just feeling like the culture of avoiding the conflict then bashing in private is making things worse!

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  2. I think it's tough to have a really meaningful, potentially contentious conversation over dinner....especially if alcohol is being served, because it does not always bring out the best in people, and Thanksgiving is nothing if not a holiday for overindulgence in all things. Christmas might actually be better, because of all those songs and the general theme about loving one's neighbors and doing what it takes to bring peace into the world. It might make it harder to have a fight and maybe all that "peace and goodwill towards mankind" might soften a few hearts. Worth a shot, to be sure. I'm with you 100 percent on the gun issue, and like you, also despair at the extremism that's ruling the day here in America. We're capable of being so much better than this! Anyway, hugs and glad all's well in your world.

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    1. Okay this god damn blogger interface is impossible anymore! Haha thank you so much for your comment. I know what you mean. Though Christmas is a much larger more raucous affair in my family so I think smaller, more controlled Thanksgiving will be better! Plus my cousin will be here who is a high ranking military figure and I’m really interested in his contribution to the discussion, especially since his wife is from a country with virtually no gun violence.

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  3. I swear that you and I are related somehow, someway....if not by blood by thoughts and intellect. I am registered as Independent, too, and feel the same way about gun control as you do. I am working on a concealed carry license right now at my son's prompting.

    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I have been in and out of blogging so I have missed your posts! Love ya, kiddo!!!! Diana

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    1. Hello! So great to hear from you. We all need to get back in our blogging routines! I’m so glad to hear that! Is everyone coming to you for Thanksgiving this year?

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  4. I love the way you’re thinking, and I feel sure you’re heading in the right direction. I don’t live in the U.S. and I don’t pretend to understand your political system, but I’m certain that the U.S. desperately needs gun control. In fact I think the whole world needs gun control.
    Kathryn.

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    1. Thank you! It’s such a terrible shame that this is our reality

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  5. A civil sane discussion on gun control.... hmmmm. Is that an oxymoron? Though Jean Shaw I like your idea for starters as long as someone doesn't burst a blood vessel waiting their turn. And Stephen I think it's a great idea to bring it up. I know exactly what you mean by the extremes cancelling each other out. It should be discussed in 'everyday' life. Whenever I've tried to discuss a political issue with a friend who opposes my view they take it personally (it's actually better with family, more able to see both sides). I wish you a great Thanksgiving dinner and visit! I'm Canadian, we've had our's (less of a 'thing'). I'm looking forward on hearing the outcome! ��Barb, Basia, Bairbre51 (in case you wondered:)

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    1. Thank you! I wish the US and Canada would each adopt the other’s Thanksgiving! I’d love to have both!! Yes I just feel like it’s one of those things that has become so much more extreme left in the dark than people expressing their ideas aloud. I’m so annoyed these things get so political when they’re clearly a cultural problem

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  6. Fabulous to see your post as i’ve always enjoyed your posts.
    i’ll read anything, including fine print on packaging (used to drive my late mum nuts as i pushed the trolley up & down the shopping aisles as i’d Be languishing reading the fine print...) so i’m Not a great barometer on quality control!
    We have discussions all the time at dinner (we wait now until everyone’s back home from work,sports training, school activities etc).
    Having teens especially ones who are interested in politics with every view available on the internet, sitting down to discuss viewpoints in person is now part & parcel of our dinner. It’s been good to discuss with our teens the issue of abortion, gun control, food security, marriage equality, meal prep and whatever else one of us wants to discuss. Needless to say, i’ve Always taken the opposing viewpoint to them so that they can have their eyes wide open not shut. I think more than anything they are learning and i’m Relearning respectful discussion.
    Nothing better than an eye roll from a teen or from us the old fogeys!
    Wishing you all the best at your table, Den xxx

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    1. Hello! Thank you! When I haven’t written in a long time there’s just a lot that I need to get out but often realize I don’t necessarily need to share. Haha hoping to get back on my routine. I grew up with discussions at the table about anything and I’m sad that that’s no longer the case in my family. I think as a whole it’s made our dinners less interesting and certainly less intellectual. Plus it sits there whether you address it or not.

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  7. I agree that we need to talk with each other. My husband and I, who are both progressives (i.e., as they were known when we were in college, liberals). We have many relatives and more than a few friends and acquaintances who are on the other side of the political spectrum. Our closest friends are staunch conservatives of a libertarian bent. The only opinion that every one of these people share is that they now deplore Trump (and would not vote for him if they could re-do their 2016 vote). We do talk about politics, since what is going on politically here and around the world is on everyone's minds, and somehow we never have ended up angry with, or even shouting at, each other. I think that that is because we respect each other even though we have some marked political differences. (Reasonable people can disagree, after all.) I figure I can learn a lot from them (and I have), and they seem to feel that there is value in listening to what I have to say and debating it if they wish. People who don't enjoy talking about the issues of the day in a constructive way probably don't care to frequent our table (where most conversation takes place). That's probably the case with one relative, a nephew who is on the far, far right (and frankly, with his arsenal of weapons and virulently homophobic stance, scares me at times). Or maybe he just finds it boring at my house...all that talk between people who are old and not drunk.

    I always appreciate and enjoy your posts. You live in a part of the country in which I haven't spent nearly enough time, and I live in the opposite corner (the Pacific Northwest). I appreciate the chance to get to know you, because you are a fascinating, talented character, and to hear about your worlds. Your photographs are beautiful, your writing is intriguing, and we share a love of dogs and fond memories of Ellie. I'm hoping to hear more about your great year. Respectfully, Leslie

    Incidentally, I don't agree that "we’ve handed our country over to the far side of either party." The current battle strikes me (and many political writers whom I respect) as one that is between the far right, as mobilized by Trump, and the center (not far) left. It is the latter whom Trump is trying to label a "mob," and while we may be willing to be loud at time, we are not willing to be violent.

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    1. Hello Leslie! Great to hear from you! Thank you. That is so interesting that you know Trump voters who regret it. That is 100% not the case here in Ohio.
      I thought a lot about your point that Democrats are not operating from the far side of the party. I think there has been too close an embrace between Democrats and destructive and radical protests. The call to disturb and disrupt cabinet members lives crosses a line of decency in my opinion. But I do understand the reactionary nature of politics and the whackier the shit gets on one side, the louder the push back is on the other.

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  8. BRILLIANT!
    TIME TO BRING IT ALL TO THE TABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!!!!!!!!
    WE ARE HEADED BACK IN TIME THE WAY IT's GOING NOW..........
    GUNS SOLVE NOTHING!
    BUT OUR PRESIDENT WANTS TO PUT THEM IN THE CLASSROOM AND HE EVEN SAID IF THE SYNAGOGUE had ONE "THINGS WOULD HAVE GONE DIFFERENTLY!"NO PLACE OF WORSHIP NEEDS A GUARD!
    AND WHAT IS THIS I HEAR ABOUT HIM PLAYING THE HAPPY TUNE THAT DAY??????????????????
    I just caNNOT even TOLERATE HIS BEHAVIOR. NO MORALS, NO MANNERS!!!!HE WALKED IN FRONT OF THE QUEEN AND KEPT HER WAITING!!!!!Probably eats with HIS ELBOWS ON THE TABLE!!!!!
    YOU KNOW WHERE I HAVE ALWAYS STOOD and I"M A REPUBLICAN!
    HOW DO I CHANGE THAT STATUS?BECAUSE THOSE IDIOTS IN THE HOUSE HAVE FAILED THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TERRIBLY.........
    GOOD TO SEE YOU BACK!
    SHORTEST POST EVER!!!!!
    HOW IS BARBIE!!!!!!??
    XX

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    1. Haha thank you!! Barbie is fabulous!! I didn’t know you had been a Republican. California Republicans always intrigue me! I recently read an article about how many silent republicans there are in Southern California and was surprised. The midterms will be so interesting to see unfold this week. Glad to know how many more people are voting this year

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    2. REPUBLICAN but VOTED for OBAMA last two ELECTIONs BACK!!!!!
      I listen to the DEBATES and DECIDE on the BEST CANDIDATE.OBAMA.........has CLASS AND EDUCATION like NO OTHER PRESIDENT and DEFINITELY OUT SHINES THIS ONE HANDS DOWN!XX

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  9. SO great to see a post from you! This Thanksgiving will be totally different for us. My husband had major dental surgery and, for him, it's mostly soft foods so I think pie will be first (with lots of whipped cream, of course). As far as discussions regarding politics and guns, it's just the two of us and we agree. I can't wait to hear how your Thanksgiving is, and I wish you and your family/friends a very happy day.

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    1. Thank you so much!! Best wishes to your husband on his recovery! Doesn’t sound too bad to me! Mashed potatoes and pie!

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  10. Scary thought discussing politics. I wish the American government would introduce gun control . I have heard Aussies say they
    won't travel to the USA as they are fearful of being shot. My husband & I visit the the US once or twice each year and have met people who own numerous guns. With all the mass shootings the issue has to addressed, will the NRA allow any change to happen.
    Love your pictures, have missed you entertaining posts. We are looking forward to escaping the Australian heat to enjoy a cooler Christmas in San Francisco.

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    1. Thank you! How exciting to spend the holidays in such a fabulous food city!! I understand the fear! I’m often nervous going to the grocery store! Isn’t that absurd? Absurd that one must have the fear, not the fear itself which is of course not absurd these days.

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  11. What glorious photos you have taken, absolutely breathtaking. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, although I sometimes wish we did - just for the pumpkin pie and the decor. It would be hard for me to think of a discussion about guns, as our situation and laws are quite different.

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  12. I'm always so happy to see one of your posts. We had an ungodly early Canadian Thanksgiving. Politics was mostly avoided and instead the conversation focused on mobile dog euthanasia - I kid you not. I'd have preferred talk about US Politics. Also, nobody ate the pumpkin pie so I felt offended in spite of it all. I like the formal rules for debate idea Jean offered. It is a way to have lively conversation without weapons being drawn. Have a very happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. Thank you!! Canadian Thanksgiving is super early but I also would love to have it then!! I think we just need to have both! Im hoping the discussion can happen!

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  13. SAJ I think you're so right, why keep these things hidden, talking about all the superficial stuff while this is really what everyone is thinking about. (BTW, Not a democrat or a republican, you sound like a Canadian voter to me! One of the things we often find baffling is the strictness to loyalty to one party or the other in the US, I think we tend to vote around more.)
    As you know we celebrated Thanksgiving long ago... way too early I can't stand the date of Canadian thanksgiving. I am having a dinner party for 10 tonight though! My god I've been getting ready all week, it's so much work. Looking just as I wanted it though. And I'm sure we'll be talking about US politics but there won't be any fights.
    We are headed to Georgia for a full week at Christmas and we are all looking forward to it. So lovely there at Christmas.
    I hope you let us know how it goes at your dinner! xxx

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    1. Your dinner party looked soooo lovely! I wish I could have come! I will be in HHI for New Years! When are you headed back to Canada? Thank you! I think you’re so right, I really feel like conversation has suffered as we all get dumber because we talk about nothing!

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  14. I've missed your musings and your beautiful photographs.
    We are a hunting family so there are guns in our lives. However, no one in our family supports anyone having assault weapons. My WWII veteran father-in-law quit the NRA when they went to the extreme survivalist right. The gun issue doesn't come up; maybe how big the buck that got away was. When the conversation turns contentious, which it often does because certain relatives are homophobic,racist, every -ist there is, we default to the latest antics of our cats. Last year I dozed off at the head of the table after 2 days of prep for 15. We just lost the matriarch of the family, so I think maybe things will be quieter...or maybe my children will finally say what they've wanted to say all these years to the -ist family but held their tongues for the sake of their beloved grandmother! Three weeks to go...Carol in VT

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    1. I’m so sorry for your loss! Yes maybe it’ll alllllll come out this year. And maybe there’s a chance for growth! Haha I am perpetually optimistic but I think most of peoples radical views can be fixed by exposure and education. So if someone gets the big buck, does the menu change?

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    2. Ah, no. We still have the traditional T'day menu. Only the desserts change. Although I have nixed the jello/fruit salad mess. I hate food that moves unless it's dripping chocolate. I did make a wonderful artisanal dressing (with venison sausage, see below)last year that no one ate. Back to the box this year because I was the only one who ate the leftovers...for days! No, the venison is packaged as steaks & chops for husband & kids when they visit. The rest is ground with a good quality chuck for hamburg and I make my own bulk sausage with my Kitchen-Aid grinder.

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    3. LOVE your deflection to the cats! Good for you. Kill 'em with humor. Most people are set in their views by a certain age. I have become very good (expert even) at ignoring -ist words where mine would be futile. I silently talk to God until their lips stop moving. ;) Good luck, and Happy Thanksgiving! ~Nicole in CA (originally from NH)

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  15. I've always loved the family/friends discussions and debate on all sorts of topics, I was raised on it. However, around the Thanksgiving table maybe we need something deeper. Politics don't really address the the big topics; what's important to you now? have your priorities changed? what's the main purpose of your existence? does make a difference in how you live day to day? Until we deal with these in our lives we are dupes for any politician offering superficial solutions; that's how we got to where we are now.

    By the way, whether more women have guns or not would seem to take a back seat to making our own reproductive choices. This is the ultimate government overreach.

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    1. Yes I definitely see your point for getting a bit more existential at Thanksgiving as it really is a time for reflection and finding joy. You’re so right!

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  16. Hi Stephen, Firstly, how great to see you posting again. I always enjoy your posts. I have a couple of suggestions regarding your family Thanksgiving discussion. Firstly, what do you really want out of the conversation? Do you each want to convince people of your ideas or do you want to explore the topic together? It's a good question for everyone to start off with - why would we talk about this sticky subject? How open are we to listening fully to each other? And maybe you could let them know that you will ask each person a couple of questions at the end of dinner: How deeply did I listen to others today? how deeply did I feel others listened to me? Good dialogue is about sharing ideas in a way that allows learning, not judgement. So I wonder if you could invite people to be curious together. That would be something to give thanks for!

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes that’s really what I want. I want the topic addressed rather than avoided. I love your idea of framing the discussion with some definition!

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  17. Lovely November scenes, Stephen! Good for you for wanting intelligent conversation. I hope it's what you get. I won't discuss the subject any more after the last one where the theme involved removing a certain political figure by deadly force. That's insane. My response was simply, "That's not who we are." That said, I turn to alternative sources (lots and lots of good info on You Tube). Mainstream media are puppets with a script. I cannot listen to the president - his voice gives me the creeps. His absurdity is one for the stage of a court jester and I just don't take anything he says seriously, so I look elsewhere for my news. I believe the intent of so-called news is to divide us, pure and simple. Picking a political side at this point in time seems so archaic to me. I believe the parties operate as one behind closed doors and come up with ways to bleed the country dry under different umbrellas/names. So I ponder other ideas, the true controllers of our society and how far back that goes would knock your socks off. You've probably heard mention that there were presidents before Washington - yet we are not told that, most likely because Washington, a Freemason, heralded the new regime that we've been under ever since. Then there's the so-called tragedies. I have my doubts that many of them happened in the way we are told. Again, we are being terrorized by our own government. Not here to stir up people's sensitivities, just taking a cold, hard look at people who are supposed to have our interests in mind yet are all actors in one big psychological operation to make us believe a narrative. One thing to consider is how drills are often performed in the vicinity of the event/shooting. Then the news outlets all show the same footage. Remember when reporters on foot found unique, original vantage points to broadcast? We need to be more discerning about what we are presented. That's my two cents! I will not be terrorized!! Happy Thanksgiving. :) ~Nicole in CA

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  18. Very different Thanksgiving for me this year as I contemplate how I will spend it. My daughter and family will fly east to the place where we went for Thanksgiving as a family for many years, as the relatives there are having their last one before moving into an assisted living community. Melancholy just thinking about it. But, time marches on and so I intend to honor the tradition that I was so happy to be a part of for many years. I'm thinking of inviting my daughter's in-laws to my place while the kids are away. It's still a day for Giving Thanks and there is still so much for which to be thankful. More than politics and gun control (we are better people than the media tries to portray), I will celebrate family connections in all their forms. :) Happy Planning, Stephen! ~Nicole in CA

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