Reader wants to avoid po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions

The Saline Courier - - OPINION - Harriette Cole is a lifestylis­t and founder of DREAMLEAPE­RS, an ini­tia­tive to help peo­ple ac­cess and ac­ti­vate their dreams. You can send ques­tions to askhar­ri­[email protected]­ri­et­tecole.com or c/o An­drews Mcmeel Syn­di­ca­tion, 1130 Wal­nut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

“Congress shall make no law ... abridg­ing the free­dom of speech, or of the press ... . ” — From the First Amend­ment to Con­sti­tu­tion

DEAR HARRIETTE: The hol­i­days are com­ing, and I am wor­ried about how the con­ver­sa­tions will go. We will be trav­el­ing down South to visit fam­ily, and in our rel­a­tively small fam­ily, we do not share sim­i­lar po­lit­i­cal views. Given how di­vided Amer­i­cans are in gen­eral, I am con­cerned about how our din­ner-ta­ble con­ver­sa­tions will go. In pre­vi­ous years, some of my cousins got into se­ri­ous ar­gu­ments with other fam­ily mem­bers be­cause they did not agree on ba­sic prin­ci­ples -- and this was be­fore to­day’s name-call­ing and nasty commentary.

How can I man­age our time to­gether so that the fric­tion is lim­ited? I want to en­joy some peace­ful meals and con­ver­sa­tions to­gether, but I’m afraid that we will mostly be ar­gu­ing. -- Hol­i­days and Pol­i­tics

DEAR HOL­I­DAYS AND POL­I­TICS: There are a cou­ple of ways to ap­proach your dilemma, which, by the way, is far more com­mon than you might imag­ine. You can let your fam­ily know up­front that in the spirit of the hol­i­days, they must leave all po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions at the door. Ask for ev­ery­one’s agree­ment that no­body will talk about their can­di­dates of choice or the hot po­lit­i­cal is­sues that have a choke­hold on the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion these days. Know, how­ever, that this is a lot to ask.

Shy of that ex­treme po­si­tion, you might also sug­gest that there should be times when pol­i­tics are con­sid­ered taboo. For ex­am­ple, you could re­quest no po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions dur­ing meals. Ask the fam­ily to honor that rule.

You can agree to de­bate ideas with­out ma­lign­ing each other’s names or their can­di­date of choice. In other words, ask your fam­ily mem­bers to be civil and re­spect­ful, es­pe­cially when they dis­agree. In America, we are sup­posed to have the free­dom to ex­press our po­lit­i­cal views with­out fear of per­se­cu­tion. This should in­clude the same free­dom in the safety of your home. ••• DEAR HARRIETTE: I used to be the mem­ber of my fam­ily who seemed to have it all to­gether. I have never had a lot of money, but I used to do much better than I am do­ing now. Re­cently, my fi­nances be­came a source of ridicule and judg­ment when I was un­able to par­tic­i­pate in a spe­cial group ac­tiv­ity. I am so em­bar­rassed that I don’t have my money right. Some­times I feel like my fam­ily would be better off if I just dis­ap­peared. I don’t want to be a bur­den to any­one. I also don’t want to be the one who can’t pitch in. I do have a healthy life in­surance pol­icy. If I die, they would all have money. I won­der if they would be hap­pier then? -- Feel­ing De­flated

DEAR FEEL­ING DE­FLATED: Be­ing em­bar­rassed about fi­nan­cial chal­lenges is real, and many peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence this feel­ing when oth­ers dis­cover their fi­nan­cial sta­tus. I am sorry that your life has not un­folded in the way that you en­vi­sioned. The fact is, though, that you have to deal with what you are fac­ing. You must re­main hon­est with your­self and your fam­ily mem­bers in or­der to cre­ate any sort of peace in your life.

As it re­lates to your in­surance, please do not think that your fam­ily’s strug­gles will end if you die. They will miss you and mourn for you. Stop imag­in­ing the what-ifs of your demise. If you need help to get past that, get a ther­a­pist or call the Na­tional Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Life­line at 800-273-8255.

HARRIETTE COLE

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