This Thanksgiving, Be A Lover Before You're A Fighter

Nov 25, 2019

We are just a few days from a Thanksgiving that some of you are dreading.

The holidays can often be weird if you’re in a family that 1) is divided politically and 2) can’t help but talk about it. But this year seems more fraught than usual. We’ve spent the past few months arguing about impeaching the president, and the past couple weeks watching and listening to the actual impeachment hearings.

You have opinions about it. So does everybody else in your family. Some of their opinions are way different than yours. And you might end up seething at one another before the gravy makes it all the way around the table.

I’m not suggesting that you just hold it all in. But I will suggest this: Before you let it out, try to remember something you love about the people you’re hollering at.

Let’s take Uncle Phil. Most of us have got an Uncle Phil. His worldview is carved out of Neanderthal rock. Politically, you and Uncle Phil are pulling on opposite ends of the rope. But … maybe Uncle Phil helped you with your math homework when you were a kid. Maybe he lent you a few bucks when you were young and broke. Maybe he was the first one to hug you when your cat died.

Point being, you know there is goodness in Uncle Phil’s heart. It’s important to remember that. And it’s just as important for Uncle Phil to remember that there’s goodness in yours.

The last few years have drawn such sharp lines between us that sometimes it’s hard to see people as anything beyond their politics. But every one of us is a messy pile of contradictions and complications. We do things against our own best interests. We take positions even we can’t justify. And we love people we constantly disagree with.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” Not many of us are blessed with a first-rate intelligence, especially after a double helping of turkey and dressing.

But you can hold onto the idea that someone might believe in things you can’t stand, while still knowing that they’re worthy of your love.

I guess what I’m really saying, here at Thanksgiving, is this: Argue if you must, but love first.

Which, by the way, is not a bad way to live the other 364 days of the year.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.