Surviving the Holiday Struggle
I have always had trouble with Christmas. Maybe it’s the obligation to a buy everyone a proper gift. It could be the massive push by retailers to persuade us to buy a bunch of stuff that nobody really needs. However, I suspect it is deeper than that. When my mom was a teenager, her father suffered political attacks and lost his job. He found the struggle unbearable. Right around Christmas he shot himself in the head. Losing a father is traumatic, and extremely so for my mother under these circumstances. Most every Christmas she would be sick in bed with a back pain or something. She would struggle out of bed briefly to open presents with us boys. It wasn’t the festive event we were taught it should be. Many of us struggle from the shadow of such traumatic events.
More recently, it seems that another form of holiday struggle has emerged. Opposing news broadcasts (left and right) have allowed us to choose between two limited versions of the news which only really agree that foreign wars are good for the US. Social media permits us to meet online friends who agree with our views no matter what we believe. We all like others to agree with us and social media corporations have studied this. To capture us as loyal customers they need to connect us with friends and media who agree with our biases.
It would seem that this would reduce struggle. However, like-minded people often criticize the other side to create an apparent closeness or connectedness. Criticism of the other side also creates reactive anger within us.
When we get together with family for the holidays we often discover that many relatives have been listening to programming and friends who criticize our point of view. They often parrot irritating phrases they heard on the news or social media. If we were hearing this on social media or the news, we would just click and the opposing voice would be gone. However, they are family. This means that, by tradition, we are obligated to sit politely and listen to their angry rhetoric against our views.
Being forced to listen to opposing views after being charged with emotion against those views awakens all that anger that has been poured into us from our chosen media sources. The dining table thus becomes a powder keg on the edge of exploding. Our relatives find themselves compelled to repeat the angry rhetoric they’ve so often heard from their chosen media. Family Thanksgivings and Christmases can become volatile.
The first step is to understand that the “truth” we get from the media and from everywhere else always carries an agenda or point of view, usually for profit or power, created by corporations or hidden individuals. A simple example is “things go better with coke.” Is that true? Personally I prefer Dr. Pepper. On the other hand, I view all soft drinks as weapons of mass health destruction.
A lot of what we hear or see in the media is manufactured, an artificial reality, a theory built upon assumptions. Even the discussions around our Thanksgiving table are mostly a rehash of what people saw on the media. Does anyone at the table have first-hand knowledge of what they’re saying? Or they just repeating something they heard somewhere. Is their authority Fox or CNN? When you find yourself arguing with someone, has either of you been to Ukraine or the Vatican? Has either of you conducted vaccine research or voter canvassing? Has anyone examined actual climate records to determine for themselves whether there is net global warming or global cooling?
Most likely, neither of you has any first-hand knowledge supporting your side of the argument. Most likely, you are both just repeating carefully crafted media phrases which seem reasonable but are just carefully crafted theories.
Most news stations present that those foreign wars fought by our government are good. Does it feel true? Put yourself in the shoes of a Pro-Life advocate. Isn’t all life precious? Now in the shoes of a Pro-Choice person: Shouldn’t each of us have the right to choose? It is the media that tries to get us to choose sides and argue. Is either side 100% false? We can learn from the other side and let go of painful assumptions.
As you listen to your family discussing many topics you will see that each of us is filled with opinions which we can’t personally verify. As you listen to your relatives you will see that each of us is filled with opinions which we can’t personally verify. Listening and feeling the discomfort within your body will cause your biases and prejudices to dissolve. This will set you free of so many manufactured lies.
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