As the holidays approach, many people will break bread with friends and/or family members for the first time since the election. Around that table may be a spectrum of political views. Some may want to discuss and process. Others may seek to argue. Remember: unity often starts at the table when common ground seems hard to find.
Here are a few suggestions on how to handle yourself:
1. Don’t be a jerk. Remain civil even if you feel like you are being provoked or baited. Be the bigger person. Watch your tone. Listen. Learn. Seek to gain understanding.
2. Let people grieve and/or celebrate. There is a lot at stake in every election, and the long slog of negativity generated in the process gets more intense with each cycle. We all have emotions involved. Own yours. Give people some space to own their emotions too.
3. Heal. Win or lose, the election has taken its toll. There are wounds. There are the wounded. Tend to them.
4. Regroup. Find your friends and discover new allies, come to terms with reality and start thinking about next steps that bring people together; without making the future about “us” and “them.”
5. Come back to the Table. There are winners and losers in any election, but this particular election has tapped into an underlying anger that needs addressing and has surfaced in both troubling and menacing ways. The election may be over, but serious divisions remain. Some people are really scared. It is difficult to even talk to each other, and it is tempting to either tune-out or just walk away. Please don’t. There is a lot of rebuilding to do. Sit. Stay. Eat.
Look for new entry points into conversation by sitting with those who are angry, afraid and/or hurting (including but not limited to those around your table this holiday season). Your neighbors need you too. We all need each other at the table now. I pray we get there soon. Please, pass the potatoes.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Do no let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen