I could just cut this piece quite short, and say, straight out of the gate: "Don't do it!" Do NOT talk politics right now with family, friends old or new who do not share in your political beliefs...
But clearly, with everything from the #MeToo Movement, #BlackLivesMatter, and our President's daily Twitter rants in the forefront of our social consciousness, it is sometimes not so easy to avoid.
So, what to do?
The main advice I can offer, especially if you "disagree" with what the other party is putting forth, is to really try to get quiet, and listen.
I have done a lot of political organizing work, and know that energy is best used in not trying to convert people who very heartily disagree with your views, but in trying to understand where they are coming from, on an emotional level. It all begins there.
Often times, political leanings have been ingrained in us by either a positive or a negative reaction to our own family systems: You grew up wanting to impress your uber-aware professor mom or writer father round the dinner table with tasty and topical snippets from the NY Times, or all of your uncles in your family are long-time union, or cops, so you grew up on the far-side of the "Left," or conversely, became rabidly anti-Liberal. All of our our family experiences bleed into and make up our political awareness (or lack thereof.) Yes, of course, we eventually make our own decisions. But do not discount where and how your own political beliefs were shaped.
These are the things to consider when you are on the verge of fighting with someone about Trump, Harvey Weinstein, or anything or anyone else on the socio-political spectrum. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR PERSPECTIVE, mind you, or pretend to agree with them. But most truly negative opinions come from a place of not understanding the full picture. (i.e., a true lack of awareness, compassion and understanding on many levels.)
You can just choose not to engage. There is too much vitriol, anger and negativity in the air right now as it is. Call out anyone who is blatantly racist or misogynist, if you have the guts to do so, of course. And better yet, physically leave, and this action can itself speak volumes.
The advice here is this: Save your precious energy when the talk turns to Washington politics.
Dialogue is always useful, and of course, good, thoughtful debate always has its rightful place. But you know what is even better right now?
Action. Doing stuff.
Stop fighting with friends and family at the dinner table, posting on Facebook until you are blue in the face, and hate-Tweeting. Find a group in your neighborhood, whether you are on the left or on the right, or somewhere in between-and start supporting a political candidate, or cause, you can identify with.
Stop arguing. We all know you have an opinion that is informed and crucially important to you.
I'm just challenging you today to put your money where your mouth is.
Get out there and do something!
There are extraordinarily important Congressional primary races going on, right now, across the entire country, and the mid-term congressional election is a mere two months away- on November 6th.
Volunteering for a local political campaign may seem a bit daunting at first, but it's really very fun, quite simple, and functions on most common-level ways of dealing with situations and people. You call people on the phone! You enter simple data or do some emails! You "canvas" by knocking on doors, and discussing your candidates with awesome seniors, brilliant college students and caring, young families alike. Not complicated at all.
It is actually awesome.
You change things by talking action. Not by simply talking about what is ailing you, the planet, or society-at-large. Just like in your very own life! (If you are truly too introverted to make phone calls or knock on doors, they always need help selling swag in the campaign HQ, answering phones or emails, or doing some easy data entry.)
You can look up who is running for the House of Representatives in your CD (Congressional District) here. Then Google "Rep's name" campaign HQ," and call them! Believe me, they will be truly ecstatic to get your call. (Trust me.)
Try it. See if you like it. And next time at dinner, you can smile sweetly when the conversation gets truly heavy, and kindly say, "I see we see things a little bit differently," and make a crack about 'No politics at the dinner table!' It's an old-fashioned rule for a very good, simple reason. Working to make change, in a positive way, saves your sanity, friendships and family relationships from falling down a bleak, dark hole.
And it allows you to save your energy for the real thing.
Have a great week! xo
P.S.: And VERY special thanks to my genius copywriter (and brilliant therapist) Lesli A. Johnson! She is the best…xoxo