An op-ed published on Dec. 12 begins by questioning the necessity of political discussion during the holidays, implying it may ruin your time spent with family. And I agree that this is an issue. Still, in these dangerous political times, I claim that it is more important than ever to engage in political discussions, especially with those who are closest to you.
These conversations can no doubt be uncomfortable and cause stress. However, we cannot be complacent in the face of unprecedented corruption in the highest offices of our government, especially when that corruption involves President Donald Trump soliciting foreign interference for his political gain.
And one way to do something and to begin to hold the President and his allies to account is to discuss these messy political issues with our families. So, my somewhat polemical point, echoed by philosopher and political thinker Alain Badiou, is for us to think beyond our own discomfort, and perhaps confused feelings, about the current state of politics under Trump.
“Thinking beyond” here mean going beyond our mere feelings about the political situation and raise ourselves to the level of thinking and of political action. Today more than ever, we need to make the difficult decision to think for ourselves. Rather than think exclusively about pursuits of money, pleasure and power (which are all easy to do around the holidays), we need a thinking that involves a concern for the truth.
And in a supposed post-truth era where alternative facts are taken to be the standard of truth, a real concern for the value of truth is needed more than ever. We only need to look at the impeachment hearings to see that Republicans are promoting debunked conspiracy theories in attempts to gaslight the country and question our sense of reality.
In short, there is a danger inherent in not truly thinking and in complacently letting yourself give in to the enjoyment of the holidays. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy the holidays. I think we all should. What I’m suggesting is we should not be content with doing nothing beyond that enjoyment.
Doing nothing only reaffirms the status quo. As Badiou claims, “if we do nothing at all, we are only in the fascination, the stupidity of fascination, by the depressive success of Trump.” Talking to your family about politics takes courage, no matter what your political views. But consider this holiday as a chance to go outside your comfort zone, test your courage and see what you are capable of.
To put the point in a slightly different way: what better gift to your family members than challenging them (and yourself) to truly think and see how courageous you can be. You may be surprised how much you enjoy it!