This has the potential to be a hard Thanksgiving for many of us. Family gatherings invite political discussion around the dinner table, and the last few weeks have been exceptionally stressful in the political realm. Just about everyone is feeling it and I know Thanksgiving is going to be tough, even if you find yourself surrounded by relatives who voted the same way you did on November 8th.
This is what I’ve learned from this election cycle: We, as a people in this country, are horribly under informed about the systems we take place in on a daily basis. The last several months have seen me doing research on things I felt someone should have taught me (or taught me better) a long time ago. How the Republican primary works, how the electoral college works, exactly what it is the President actually DOES. I thought I knew these things, or that I at least had a vague idea but when it came right down to it I realized I know so little about how our country works.
How much do you know? And why don’t we know more? My daughter is in 3rd grade and all she really understands about the U.S. government is that there is a President, we vote to select them and some rudimentary ideas about the electoral college because she asked and my husband did his best to explain it. I feel like this is information kids should be taught in kindergarten, and that civics should be part of every grade from kindergarten through high school graduation.
And not only do we not know enough about the government we live in, many people in the country suddenly realized on election night that they know very little about the motivations of millions of their fellow Americans.
Why bring this up on Thanksgiving? On my Facebook feed recently I have noticed so many people – perfectly intelligent, otherwise completely compassionate people – calling huge swaths of our population stupid and ignorant. But the fact is we are all way more ignorant than we should be.
Even if your world feels upside down right now, even if you are paralyzed by anxiety at the thought of cheerily showing up at Thanksgiving dinner only to have to survive hours of Uncle Frank over-sharing political views that make your skin crawl, try to see this as an opportunity to learn and practice. Learn what you can about how things work, including the life experience of your Uncle Frank. Practice compassion for anyone you don’t see eye to eye with. They are living in a different reality than you are. That doesn’t make them stupid and ignorant. It just means you have a lot to teach each other.
And that is something to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving from Space for Play!