Thanksgiving is one of those few times a year in which all of your family finds itself sitting around the table. For the day to day you are used to eating with your immediate family, and maybe even your grandparents, but not those family members that you probably see only three times a year. Yes they are family, and yes you love them tons, but you know that when it comes to anything slightly political, blood suddenly isn't as thick as water.
For some, the solution for these political disagreements is to avoid talking about politics at all simply. Most families ban them, stating that they do not want to fight on one of the few days a year when everyone is together, and I agree with that sentiment. Thanksgiving for me is one of my favorite holidays, and I know that the worst thing would be if it got ruined with a petty fight over politics or controversial topics.
But, I do not think that completely avoiding politics is something that really does any good for anyone and I believe that there are ways to be able to discuss something without it becoming a full-blown fight. Being able to discuss with someone who has an opposing view is an opportunity to understand better why they believe in what they believe, and Thanksgiving works as a place that brings people together.
My biggest advice for people who are going to be facing people with opposing political views is to simply stop and listen to what they have to say and to go into it with the mentality that you aren't going to be able to change their mind. Knowing that the point of the conversation isn't to convince the other person of your beliefs will allow emotions to be dampened so that you can actually listen to the other person.
The only caveat to this is that if a person says something that is racist or homophobic or just blatantly wrong, call them out on it. Yes they might be family, and yes they might be older than you, but that does not make it ok to say things that are offensive. These are points in which you cannot allow someone to talk like that, even if they have "always been like that."
So for any of you who are brave enough to engage these topics this year at Thanksgiving here are my three biggest takeaways:
1) Do not try to go into the conversation to change their opinion
2) Listen to the other person and their ideas
3) Call them out if they are offensive