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Thanksgiving Conversation Topics

To say the political environment in the United States at the moment is contentious would be an understatement. Indeed, as this Thanksgiving approaches the country is less than a year away from another presidential election which may prove to be even more challenging than the previous one. As Thanksgiving approaches, what are the rules?

Go for it

Americans may not realize it, but despite championing a Constitution with First Amendment protections, they get very tight-lipped when discussing certain topics which are fair game in most other parts of the world that don't promote themselves as bastions of free speech. Americans do this because that's simply how the culture was for many years in a "live and let live" country.

But in a society with an active "cancel culture" such protections are no longer afforded or normatively assumed. Therefore, why not take the opportunity to engage on possibly sensitive topics on the one day a year when it might be tolerated, around people you know (and might love, too). As long as you know where the lines are drawn, and know how to keep your own emotions in check, people might learn something, even if they are unlikely to have a "conversion" from your conversation. All persuasion begins with a genuine conversation in which each party assumes there's something to learn, even if it's mixed with items of profound disagreement.

Don't go for it!

But, some might argue, you may ruin your family time together over what...something that people are already fighting about all over the country? Focus on the positive: kids, good things at work, great vacations that are coming up or you've got stories from. While these may not be the most exciting topics of conversation, they are deeply unifying and no one can have a dissenting opinion on how cute children can be (when they aren't being difficult!).

It can be argued that rather than being the place where you get to air your views, a family event might be a sanctuary from the partisan wars that are so much a part of American culture these days. While in former days it may have been fun to joust with an uncle or grandparent about taxes or foreign policy, we should be mindful that the political climate isn't fun at the moment (was it ever?) and focus on keeping the peace.

As you can see, there are persuasive arguments either way, but Gents don't figure out what they are going to do on the day, but thoughtfully consider their options in advance. There is no right answer, only the right one for your given family situation and circumstance.

Will you be discussing controversial topics this Thanksgiving? Share in the comments below!

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Ben Davis

About Ben Davis

A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.

With relatives of all generations (and all political persuasions) coming together for the holiday, it can sometimes be hard to find conversation topics that spur meaningful discussion without devolving into an argument. Which is a shame, because science shows real conversation makes us much happier than small talk. Plus, the elders in your family are often an untapped reservoir of incredible wisdom and memories.

One of the topics we discuss is the bias against senior citizens regarding thinking. Our son-in-law always comments about our age. He implies we are losing it. We tend to be liberal while he is very conservative. We were born and have lived most of our lives in big cities both in USA and in Europe while he has spent his entire life in JoCo KS. He discounts our life experience. It is both demeaning and frustrating.

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