Peace, Good Will, and Our Dearest Relationships

One of life’s most instructive ironies is that the toughest place to feel “peace on earth” can sometimes be within our own family. A friend with a broad and worldly experience – and some noticeable accomplishments – once said, “Whenever I sit down with my brothers and sister, everything that comes out of our mouths sounds like it’s still 1963.”

The roles and adaptations we took on as we grew up seem to kick in relentlessly when we return to our family of origin. Some of the feelings that come with that can be warm. And some may be not so warm. Because friends represent “the family we choose,” those patterns arise sometimes when we are with friends, too.

This holiday season, we can add to this complication the fact that the political turmoil going on here and abroad has ignited unusually strong feelings on both sides of the ballot. Often those divisions occurred within families, too. Tiptoeing around the subject is one option, yet, unfortunately, editing our family connection on that level can close down our connections on other levels as well.

Recognizing that the Good is Fundamental

One thought to keep handy is that the warm, deep, positive connection we have with family and friends is fundamental. It lies deeper and extends further than any static we might feel on the surface. Many of the world’s wisdom traditions suggest that divisions are an illusion, and the negative feelings that result from the illusion are just egos contesting to have it their way.

If that’s a little too much to take on, alongside holiday shopping, then some practical suggestions may come in handy, too.

Etiquette: Good Manners? Or Good Strategy?

Today, etiquette is often thought to be old-fashioned, formal, or even a hindrance of our personal freedom. In this 21st Century atmosphere, we might forget that etiquette evolved for the simple but vital purpose of enabling people to get along. If we want to enjoy friends and family without distracting conflicts, then it’s a time-tested strategy.

Not too long ago, cousins Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning of the Emily Post Institute published a special segment of their podcast, Awesome Etiquette, on post-election etiquette.

Reminding us that good manners are based on consideration, respect, and honesty, their podcast centered on three post-election suggestions: No gloating winners. No sore losers. And no “I told you so’s.”

The sportsmanship paradigm of winners and losers was not perfect, of course, because elections are not a game, but a selection process outlined in our Constitution. And election results – with their impact – are real and not symbolic like sports. Yet the consideration and high-road standards of good sportsmanship might give us just the model we need to keep this topic from getting in the way of our warm connection with family and friends.

Remember the Long View

Whatever comes up for conversation in our holiday gatherings, it is a good idea to remember how important those relationships have been, and how we wish them to continue. The habit of speaking gently that we often observe in people from small towns might well be applied to family and friends – and for the same reason. We avoid irritating or angering each other because we hope to be part of each other’s lives for a long time.

Making sure that time is a healthy one, too, is important. To schedule an appointment with us at Global Family Medicine, call us at 843-815-6468.