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Creating a Safe Place for Exploring Differing Political Ideas in Your Family

Creating a safe place for exploring differing political ideas in your family can be fun. Yes, I said fun! How can something so charged with emotion, passion, and controversy become a fun exercise for your family?

Create a Vision and Reality Challenge as a way of centering discussions. Instead of hashing out candidates and policies based only on opinions and news articles or the latest YouTube videos, ask everyone to bring ideas, facts, candidate platforms, party platforms, and current issues into a challenge. Since a discussion done this way could become a long process, it might be a good idea to choose 3-4 topics at a time.

Discuss each person’s Vision in terms of particular candidates, platforms, issues, or policies. What do they like about what a policy states as purpose? What do they like about what a candidate promises? What do they like about a party platform? How do these things translate into a vision for community and humanity? Ask those entering into a discussion to think through the vision and goal of the positions we all hold when it comes to political matters. In this part of the challenge, focus on what is good only.

As the Reality portion of the discussion proceeds, ask family members to contribute to a list of pros and cons about the matter at hand. Spend time brainstorming, not judging the comments that come up, and not discussing the pros and cons just yet. Simply make the list of pros and cons. Build the list until no one has anything else to contribute.

With each Vision matter, spend some time discussing the pros and cons and allow the individuals in the group to form their own conclusions about what the pros and cons indicate about the Reality portion of the exercise. Can you project realities in terms of human life, economic gains or losses, safety for individuals and communities, or other measures of success and failure? If we choose a particular stance in politics, we need to be able to think critically about what the end results, or realities, will look like. Unfortunately, this step gets forgotten in so many political discussions, yet it is the key to making wise choices in the political sphere.

Politics is really about how we as a society decide to live and govern our lives in community. Being able to think through human problems and needs in terms of governance choices is a critical skill. Training our family to discuss political positions and issues in a thoughtful and analytical way helps move wisdom from one generation to another while providing the community with citizens who can think through issues and make good decisions about how to handle them. The exercise above may seem like a cumbersome process through which to tackle politics in discussion but its design allows time for thought and many ideas to be the focus instead of rhetoric. It challenges all who participate to dig a little deeper and open up their minds to some new ideas and understanding.

However, you choose to make political discussions among family members a safe and healthy process, be brave and venture into them. We all need the opportunity to consider tough issues and learn how to deal with them among others we care about.


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