Taboo Table Talk
Hello, my friends. Oh, my, what a messy week it has been for our country. Things change so quickly, don’t they? With everything transpiring at a rapid rate, it got me thinking about the dinner table. No, not what you think. I wasn’t trying to eat away my feelings, although a comforting plate of spaghetti and meatballs with bread sounds good right about now! I thought about how we as Americans have set the standard never to talk about four things around the dinner table: Sex, Politics, Religion, and Money. It’s the four topics that are totally off the list for most family, friends, and first dates around the country.
Today, I’ve been giving the four taboo topics a lot of thought. I have asked myself why we can’t talk about these things without getting fired up, feeling fizzled out, or offended by the end of it. It’s as if we can’t detach from our own firm opinion for 5 minutes, to hear and respect the person sitting across from us, and the debate gets heated until one side gives up the effort to discuss.
Getting out of the comfort zone of talking about puppies and children seems to get us in hot water. Yet, for the majority of people, these four topics of Sex, Politics, Religion, and Money are the things that fire us up, make us passionate, fuel our motivation, and in many ways mold us into who we are. And we aren’t “allowed” to talk about it. My question is simple. If we can’t talk about what we are most passionate about with our loved ones or with our closest friends, then who?
Loyalty for only one news station, one political party, being stuck on one social issue, and private social media groups were born from this taboo expectation. Gone are the days of balanced opinions. Gone are the days of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. We are in new times. A time where being understood is more important than understanding. People prefer having a platform instead of listening to others on a platform. The courtesy of listening to someone else- genuinely listening, without waiting for a moment of silence to jump in with what you want to say is gone.
What are we teaching our children? Do they think freely or absorb what we tell them? Do they have education on American History, or do they have some dead white guy’s names memorized? Do they understand what political parties are or just that it is Us versus Them, and “we” are right? Do kids know about other cultures, how they practice worship, or just how their own home does or doesn’t do it? Does sex ever get talked about in the house, or is it something that muzzled because it’s ‘shameful’ or for behind closed doors only? What about teaching the worth of the human body? See where I’m going with all of this? It can make or break the bank. Speaking of “bank,” money seems to be a hot topic too. Don’t talk about how rich you are, don’t ask for help. It can seem too braggadocious or too desperate. I can go on and on. And yet, here we are, and here I am.
We teach our kids to be silent until they can’t take it anymore, and their feelings and opinions explode. Perhaps this is what happened recently in 2020 and on Capital Hill.
Critical thinking is somehow absent from what we do as adults and teach our kids. We have become a society of zombies, and the only food that satisfies is the same opinions and belief systems being regurgitated by the news and others on social media.
Why do we get offended when someone brings us a new idea or thought different from our own? My opinion is because we have made it taboo. How dare you talk about this with me!
I’ll close with this: you don’t have to agree with me to be my friend. I’ll listen to you, and I won’t try to shove my opinion down your throat. I’ll respect your beliefs and give you respect. Why? Because this is what being a good person means! And with all of this said, I genuinely believe most people are good. Most people will do the right thing when given the opportunity. Most people will show empathy and grace.
Things are a little crazy “out there” right now, but I hope you remember this post. I hope you will offer understanding in place of ignorance. I hope you will listen before you speak. I hope you will discard the idea that we all have to think and act the same to be liked or respected. I hope you can move forward even if the country is a little broken at the moment. When we all do this, the healing will begin. It will be fuzzy for a while, but the anecdote for our country’s disease is to be united in our differences. To agree to disagree. To love without conditions.
I hope you enjoy this post this week. It’s a little different from my usual motivation, self-help, business-related topics, but I feel it’s an important one. Maybe you’ll even find the courage to have a helping of the healthy debate tonight with your mashed potatoes- and if you do, remember: it’s okay if your cousin likes only salt and butter on theirs while you insist on gravy. Keep the spuds on the table. 🙂
“It’s only in the finer points that it gets complicated and contentious, the inability to realize that no matter what our religion or gender or race or geographic background, we will have about 98 percent in common with each other. And religion — whether you believe in God or Allah or Yahweh or something else, odds are that at heart you want the same things. For whatever reason, we like to focus on the 2 percent that’s different, and most of the conflict in this world comes from that.” -David Levithan.
Originally published at https://aaronbouren.com on January 11, 2021.