I have many very vivid memories from childhood. But of all of them, the things I remember most stem from conversations at the dinner table with my family. Many of these conversations were about what we learned in school, sports we participated in, oh and religion and politics. Each evening began with prayer at our table and most nights, especially as we entered High School, the news would be on in the background. Sometimes it was CBS, ABC, or Fox. But it was never the news stations that became the topic of conversation, it was always the issues of the day, whether they be local, nationwide, or global.
One of my favorite classes in High School was “Current Events”. At the time, George W. Bush was President. During his Presidency America lived through 9/11, the after math of Hurricane Katrina, and one of my personal “favorites”, No Child Left Behind (hint: I’m not a fan of NCLB, or what I call, No Child Left Untested – gasp a Republican disagreeing with a Republican decision).
It’s no secret that my family has more conservative views. But in our house Republicans and Democrats were not words that were part of discussion. I cannot remember a single time that I heard a conversation begin with, “Well the Democrats…”. What I do remember is having conversations around certain issues or events.
My Mom naturally taught us many things she is unaware of, because though she isn’t a formally trained teacher, rather she’s an accountant, she has a way of naturally asking us to explain our thought line. She would often ask, “Why do you think that?” or “What made you draw that conclusion?”. But what each dinner table conversation always included were three elements:
Guidance on how to respectfully share an opinion or thought
Affirmation that we have a right to our own opinion or thought
Discussion of how to “back-up” so to speak, your opinion or thought
I know at the time – the early 2000’s – that my fellow classmates were having those types of conversations as well. The reason I know, is that I cannot remember a single time where kids I went to school with were not engaging in conversation about current events, especially following 9/11. I went to a Lutheran School, but we had many kids that had come from the Public School who weren’t exactly a friend of Jesus. One of my classmates was Wiccan (which made Religion class interesting to say the least). And many were not Lutheran but from a different affiliation. Sure, there were times conversation got heated, but I never remember a single time that a classmate yelled “That’s because you’re a Liberal”, or “That’s because you’re Republican”. Never.
But that has all changed. In my opinion, there is far too little talk of politics or religion. Spewing forth hate towards another line of thought, does not count as meaningful conversation. Instead Political Correctness runs rampant in this country. Broad sweeping words such as “all” and “every” are used far too frequently. Conversation is no longer civil, but accusatory. People are far too willing to be a keyboard warrior and hide behind their screen spewing forth accusations and condemnation, then invite someone to coffee and actually discuss a topic.
America is being destroyed by Political Correctness. But what does that even mean? What is politically correct? Who defines and sets the parameters for a PC conversation?
It appears the only safe words to use now are “the”, “I”, or “a”, out of fear of violating the great and mighty beast Political Correctness.
In my opinion, it’s time to start talking about religion and politics around the dinner table again. It’s time to start having actual conversations about where our views and values stem from.
Welcome to the dinner table. Let’s not forget to thank the one who made us all and provided the food and follow that up with a hearty Amen. Pass the peas and the politics.
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