Editorial: December 2017
Our season to renew search for peace
For this Christmas holiday season, I’d like to share a family story, and then some thoughts about its larger meaning for this time of year, and beyond.
In 2016, we were immersed in elections that, at least on the national level, were marked by bitter divisiveness. At my household, even my children – all under 12 – were picking up on harsh language and accusations being employed by political campaigns. This produced some interesting comments around our dinner table, as my children repeated a lot of the extreme things they heard on playgrounds or on TV. In other settings, with more people present, some of the children’s comments would make Sarah and I blush.
As year-end holiday gatherings were unfolding, in an effort to head off these awkward moments, our family car ride featured a mini-lecture on good behavior – and political correctness! Most parents know the talk: “Be respectful, and nice, and polite.” I am known for tossing in the “Please pretend to be good kids” line. Last year’s lecture also included our plea to the kids to ignore and refrain from any commentary on politics.
In the homes of our relatives and friends, after the meal is completed, the playing cards appear. For my family, pinochle is the game of choice. During one particularly intense game, I focused hard on my hand, oblivious to the clamor of the house full of children. When my turn came to make a play, I asked, loud enough for many to hear: “What is trump, again?”
At that moment, my son, Carter, who was dashing through the kitchen, caught my comment, and stopped dead in his tracks. He declared, in high volume: “Dad, you said no talking about politics at Grandma’s house!” Well so much for the well-intended car-ride lecture, and the blush-avoidance plan. All the adults at that card table got a good chuckle out of it.
As I reflect on that little incident, I can’t help but ponder the deeply divided camps and language that are still prevalent in our world. I continue to hold out hope for bridging our divides. We can demand that this group or that group should moderate their messaging, but I believe it’s also got to require a personal commitment. In words we choose, in statements we make – and post online, for the whole world to see – and in simple encounters with others, each of us can strive for peace over discord. Critical discussions about our quality of life, and the future of our nation need to be civil, marked by tolerance for different viewpoints. Achievement of unselfish compromise for the common good should not be an uncommon occurrence.
Commentary – and action – marked by kindness, inclusion and “peace on earth” do happen around us every day. This Christmas, join me in acknowledging these gifts, and being grateful for them.