Monday, March 7, 2011

True Liberals Object to Christmas Trees (?)

This is part two of a series about discussions with right-of-center relatives over the holidays.  When I was asked if I objected to the Christmas tree in their house, I said “of course not”.  I was told that I must not be a true liberal then, since true liberals find Christmas trees objectionable.   While my mind was spinning as I tried to come up with a civil response to this, a friend stepped in with the following comment:
“Gee, I know a large number of very liberal people, and not a single one of them finds the idea of Christmas trees objectionable.  I personally tend to find myself being very skeptical about sources when they make claims like this that are at odds with what I see around me.”
Perfect!  The response kept a civil tone, emphasized personal experiences, wasn't directly critical of the other person,  but instead used personal observations to express skepticism about a news source.  (In this case the “news source” was assumed to be a popular right wing radio show, so I’m probably being overly generous using the term “news source”).   This seems to be a great way in general to gently but firmly question over-generalizations and prejuduces at the start of a discussion.  The art of civil conversations then becomes finding a productive way to continue the discussion in an open and respectful manner.

(I originally posted this in the Tikkun Daily Blog)

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