by Jon Cohn

If this month’s topic was a gymnastic event, the judges would give it a degree of difficulty rating in the high 9s. 

Figuring out the best way to talk politics with friends or family members during the holidays may be a near herculean task. It’s like a female gymnast fighting desperately to regain her balance as she leans perilously close to falling off the beam—first leaning too much to the left, then too much to the right.

But having no particular fear of heights, or touchy topics, we take on the task.

Let’s start with an area of agreement.

It’s a volatile and controversial political time. There are some strongly divided views of our country and how it is being handled. Heated discussions on the topic have caused bad blood between otherwise friendly compatriots.

Often, because of our natural aversion of conflict, we stay silent. When friends and family get together, they will discuss everything from movies to music and birthdays to sports. But politics? A little too dangerous. Call it the “stay away—danger ahead” zone.

I suggest a break from the norm. 

I think now more than ever we need to be talking about these things. What’s happening in this country and around the world is tremendously significant. Volatile, dangerous and controversial, yes.  But, not things to ignore or not discuss.

We need to be informed. We need to hear other sides of the issue. We need to keep discussion lines open. And somehow, we need to deal with opposing views and come to common ground and understanding.

So this Thanksgiving?  Don’t be afraid to get into it a bit with Uncle George, Aunt Martha or crazy cousin Clyde. Feel free to fire up the old discussion grill and have at it. Just remember to keep it civil. No matter how heated it gets, understand you’re still family and you’re still friends.

It requires a tough exterior, no doubt, but ignoring the topics can be just as dangerous.

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