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Michael Alex

2009

www.teachlearnchange.org

Dinner
Table
Politics:
A
Holiday
Survival
Guide
 Surviving
Easter
Dinner
 In
his
run
for
the
presidency,
Barrack
Obama
captured
our
imagination
by
rejecting
 politics
as
usual.
He
also
argued
that
the
power
and
responsibility
to
make
change
 starts
with
the
people.
So,
you
agree
but
aren’t
sure
where
to
start?
Political
change
 can
start
at
home.
It
is
as
simple
as
putting
politics
on
the
menu
for
Easter
dinner.
 But
you’re
worried
that
“Yes
We
Can…”
finishes
with
“…get
angry
and
ruin
the
 holiday.”
Nobody
wants
a
crucifixion
at
a
family
gathering.
The
question
is:
how
do
 you
keep
things
from
getting
out
of
hand?
Consider
these
likely
scenarios:
 Comment
#1:
Grampa
Joe,
the
family
patriarch
who
made
his
fortune
in
the
Alberta
 oil
patch
pushes
back
from
the
table.
After
making
clear
his
expectation
that
he
be
 waited
on
in
turn
by
every
female
descendent,
he
offers
the
following
observation:
 “We
all
know
that
everyone
has
got
their
hands
out
in
this
economy.
Everybody
wants
 a
free
lunch,
most
of
all
those
commie
unions.
Wouldn’t
know
an
honest
day’s
work
if
it
 bit
them
in
the
ass.”
 You
have
at
least
three
potential
responses.
Do
you
become:
 (a)
The
Mud­Slinger:
“Well,
coming
from
a
‘hard
worker’
like
you
who
was
born
 with
a
silver
spoon
in
his
mouth
and
never
had
to
work
for
what
was
handed
to
 him,
I’m
at
least
thankful
that
you’ve
reminded
me
about
why
I
will
never
vote
 Conservative.”
 (b)
The
Joker:
“Way
to
go
gramps,
you
tell
‘em.
Hey,
remind
me:
how
many
miles
 did
you
have
to
walk
through
the
snow
to
get
to
school
when
you
were
a
kid?
And
 how
many
Reds
did
you
have
to
fight
through
on
the
way?
 (c)
The
Critical
Thinker:
“Say
grampa,
you
and
the
rest
of
this
family
did
pretty
 well
with
the
support
of
the
welfare
state.
If
you
don’t
think
we
have
a
 responsibility
to
look
out
for
those
less
fortunate
than
us,
how
would
you
propose
 we
create
a
fairer
society?”
 Comment
#2:
Aunt
Betty,
down
from
the
sticks
and
missing
the
small
town
already,
 is
unhinged
by
the
fact
that
dinner
didn’t
start
with
what
she
deems
to
be
an
 appropriate
amount
of
reflection
on
holy
sacrifice
and
the
promise
of
resurrection.
 She
demands
of
the
group:
“Just
who
do
these
atheists
think
they
are?
On
my
way
into
 town
I
saw
that
unholy
ad
on
a
bus:
‘There’s
probably
no
God.
Now
stop
worrying
and
 enjoy
your
life.’
We
should
censor
such
blasphemous
filth,
especially
at
Easter!”

 Do
you
become:
 (a)
The
Bully:
“Listen
here
you
free
speech
hating
hayseed:
I’m
not
sure
if
there’s
a
 God
or
not.
But
I
am
sure
that
I’m
as
likely
to
take
my
cues
on
civil
liberties
from
 the
church
as
I
am
to
learn
theology
from
a
transit
ad!”


Not for use or publication without permission

1


Michael Alex

2009

www.teachlearnchange.org

(b)
The
Gossip:
“You’re
right
Betty.
Everyone
knows
spirituality
is
soooo
‘in.’
I
just
 saw
Madonna
on
tour
and
I’m
seriously
thinking
about
taking
up
Kabala.”

 (c)
The
Grand
Inquisitor:
“I
don’t
know
Betty.
You
know
what
they
say:
sacred
 cows
make
the
tastiest
hamburger.
If
your
God
is
all
knowing
and
powerful,
what’s
 the
big
threat
in
a
little
bus
ad?
What
does
everyone
else
think?”
 Comment
#3:
Cousin
Doug,
wiping
some
wayward
gravy
from
his
mustache
with
 his
the
sleeve
of
his
hunting
jacket,
hammers
his
meaty
fist
into
the
table
and
 thunders:
“Did
you
hear
about
that
damned
school
out
east
that
cancelled
the
 national
anthem?
What
the
hell
does
it
say
about
our
country
that
we
would
cave
in
to
 a
bunch
of
PC
liberals
instead
of
showing
some
respect
for
our
troops?
I
say,
if
you
 don’t
love
our
country
and
stand
behind
our
troops,
you’d
better
get
ready
to
stand
in
 front
of
them.”

 Do
you
become:
 (a)
The
Instigator:
“Hey
cousin:
you
know
what
else?
I
heard
they’re
replacing
the
 anthem
with
a
song
that
celebrates
gay
marriage
and
high
taxes.”
 (b)
The
Excuser:
“
I
don’t
know
much
Doug
–
but
I
know
your
heart
is
in
the
right
 place.
The
protestors
aren’t
‘good
people,’
but
we’re
fighting
for
their
freedoms
too,
 even
if
they
don’t
deserve
them.”
 (c)
The
Democrat:
“Well
Doug,
I
realize
you
have
some
strong
feelings
about
this
 despite
the
fact
that
you
hated
school
yourself,
but
maybe
we
should
stop
for
a
 second
to
hear
what
other
people
think.”
 Many
people
are
excited
about
politics
and
want
to
get
involved.
But
political
change
 can’t
start
without
changing
minds
and
that
means
starting
conversations.
So,
when
 someone
at
your
table
drops
a
pearl
of
wisdom
like
“I
don’t
trust
that
Obama
‘cause
 he’s
a
Muslim,”
don’t
lose
your
temper.
Open
the
conversation
up
with
thoughtful
 questions
rather
than
scoring
cheap
points
with
easy
put‐downs.
It’s
Easter,
when
 would
it
be
more
appropriate
to
resurrect
the
lost
art
of
political
conversation?


Not for use or publication without permission

2


Dinner Table Politics: Surviving Easter Dinner