Events in our nationâ€™s Capitol have served up a turkey for Christmas this year. Pundits are offering suggestions for how to survive family dinner conversations that venture into the emotional waters of politics and religion. I am reminded of the great lengths to which some political leaders will go in order to insure their power base. The Christmas story contains one of the worst bloodbaths in history as King Herod killed all the male children under 2 in Bethlehem in order to secure his power. He failed.
The news anchors who tried this week to give instructions on how to get a new topic of conversation in case someone slips and brings up the anarchy in Washington also failed. The home device being demonstrated had previously offered a new, innocuous subject for conversation upon request but remained silent when they tried it on live television. Poetic justice, in my opinion.
Christmas is about how our future could still be bright in the worst of political times. Romeâ€™s heavy hand burdened the people of Palestine. King Herodâ€™s violence was only one example of the kind of havoc possible. While the angels announced peace on earth and good will toward men, the average marketplace was known for anything but good will. You could be refused service. Someone could tip the scales and give you less than you paid for. Whatever work you performed would be taxed at unbelievable rates. You could protest if you were ready to lose your life. Freedom was already a thing of the past.
How could a baby offer hope of better times? Why would anyone want to kill those dreams along with an entire community of other toddlers? Our times are unpleasant but certainly not unprecedented.
I would argue that our family dinner tables should never be devoid of conversation on these matters. Emotions are messy but they call for facts and respect to rule the day. When family members are valued, their opposing views are welcome. There is no need to put down opposing views; unless we relish imitating the circus we have been viewing in House chambers. Who wants to live by the rules they are modeling? Instead of immediate disagreement, maybe asking a question as to why a differing view is held would be in order. Private views should not go unchecked. Important matters should be discussed. Unlike the Congress, questionable views deserve cross-examination. Respect and decorum are vital but silence is proof of neither.
Start with celebration. Then when the tummy is full and the family updates are complete, let your conversation gravitate toward other important matters of the heart and the emotions these events have brought out in all of us. Disturbing world events and challenges to what is right should help families clarify their identities. Opposing views should help inquiring minds see another interpretation. By all means, donâ€™t just change the subject if someone wants to hear what this family believes about the incredible things we are witnessing. Insist on respect and decorum.
Let the Christmas spirit of hope for the future ring out amid the noise of the government. The child in the manger promised peace. He came to do His Fatherâ€™s will. His presence upset the power brokers. All struggle isnâ€™t forbidden. Tough times call for clearer vision and tougher character. Families can be sources of both.