When politics become too personal: What we didn’t talk about at Sunday dinner
In the pre-COVID-19 days, there were those large, intergenerational Sunday dinners when nothing was off the table for discussion in America.
Even now, if we were sitting down together, we’d talk of President Donald Trump lying to his supporters about overturning the election, before he incited a mob to storm the Capitol.
We might even talk of the push for political purges and tribal revenge fantasies, and of a nation that worries it is tearing itself apart.
America was tearing itself apart when I was a boy, back in the 1960s. And we’d talk about it at our Greek immigrant family Sunday dinners.
It was my first university.
Around the table were older liberal and conservative cousins, liberal and conservative uncles and aunts. Everybody could talk, even the kids like me. Snowflakes weren’t allowed. You had to defend your position. This is what we called “discussion” in the ancient times.
We talked politics, race, sports, family crises, Cousin Pete’s hatred of blue jeans, and stories of the village, about the horse falling into the well or Truman the family mule.
We’d talk about old “Twilight Zone” episodes like “The Obsolete Man,” when we imagined that it would be the political right, not the left, that would cancel ideas and cripple dissent.
When some would become angry, the wise aunts would tell us to hush and to put some slack back in our ropes. Then they’d bring out the galaktoboureko and coffee for dessert and we’d all settle down.
We were family. We didn’t split up over politics. And there was always next Sunday.