Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Family Matters

Holiday political arguments can be the stuff of legend. 

My family is nothing unusual in this regard.

The way it would often end, however, has left an impression on me years later even though many of these folks have since passed on and the family has grown and drifted as the generations have accumulated.

On one side of my family, there are people with a wide range of political views and an even wider range of opinions about how vocal we ought to be about them.  There are right-wingers and peace activists, middle-of-the-roaders and apolitical folks.  Some like to debate while others avoid it at all costs.  

Our Christmas gatherings have seen their share of knock-down-drag-out debates and no-holds-barred arguments. 

It could begin with outright intentional baiting or perhaps an innocent-sounding comment that flares up.  It continues as participants engage each other with a mix of both curiosity and repulsion--do you really think or believe this way?  It peaks with blame and hostility.

Despite all that, when we have gathered our coats, presents and plates of cookies and are headed for the door, something on the order of a Christmas miracle happens.
We usually come back to that place where we say out loud that we are still glad we get together.  Even if we see each other only once or twice a year, it does matter--we are still family and gathering is important.  Some of us would rarely opt to spend time together otherwise, yet there is something about family that speaks to a bond.  We witness to that bond by showing up.  Perhaps all we can do is agree to disagree.

(It might have been even better to start the arguments with these affirmations, but I digress.)

Christianity teaches that all humans are one family as children of the one God.  We certainly share the same world and its resources.  Like my relatives, we ought to do something to keep the dialogue open.  It matters that we are in relationship. 
Agreeing to disagree is much more powerful than our society usually regards it.  It is not a blow off--there is respect; there is acknowledgement; there is a proposed way of sitting with those differences.  It creates space to pause and re-center ourselves.  It may not be perfect, but it is a step.

We wish each other "Merry Christmas," "Safe travels" and perhaps most importantly, "See you next year."


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