Every November, America gears up for a day of giving thanks: Thanksgiving. Of course it’s also a time to catch up with family and friends, savor a meal (or two… or three!), watch a football game, and maybe even head to the local malls for a few Black Friday deals. It’s a festive and sometimes chaotic time, but it’s also an opportunity for some meaningful conversations. In light of the current climate of political and religious divisions in the US, perhaps we should all be talking about politics and religion on Thanksgiving.
At first, discussing such topics on Thanksgiving might seem like a recipe for disaster. After all, sitting around the table with our loved ones can create a pressure-cooked environment that’s not necessarily conducive to having difficult conversations. Yet jumping in and talking about politics and religion on Thanksgiving can also be a productive way to bridge divides and gain deeper understanding between us.
By starting with our shared values on issues we care about — whether it’s religious beliefs, economic policies, civil rights : — we can foster awareness and appreciation for different perspectives.At a deeper level, discussing these deeply personal matters may encourage us to look beyond differences in opinion to explore our commonalities. In other words, it’s an opportunity to die beyond our differences and focus on the relationships we share.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that political and religious discussions should remain civil and respectful. Tact is especially key when it comes to discussing religion. With any sensitive topics, it’s better to take a measured approach focused on understanding rather than on winning an argument.
Ultimately, having a thoughtful and open conversation about politics and religion on Thanksgiving might do more than inspire a new way of looking at the complicated political and religious divides in America. It could create a more meaningful and connected Thanksgiving experience. By engaging in respectful dialogue, we can better understand one another, appreciate what unites us, and develop a greater appreciation for our differences.