Cold Turkey

Published: November 23, 2016

By Jim Lichtman
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Jedi Master Dan Piraro offers this little political mockery in his weekly colorful commentaries.

courtesy Dan Piraro,

courtesy Dan Piraro,

With a country politically polarized to the point of protests, how in the heck are these people going to be able to sit down at the Thanksgiving Day table and have a civil conversation with relatives who may be in the opposition camp?

In, How to Have Thanksgiving Dinner Without a Family Blowup, Elizabeth Bernstein writes in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 20), “Leading experts on empathy and healing have helped devise a strategy for families to get along this holiday season: Learn to listen.

“This means no interrupting. No talking over the other person. No obsessing about what you’re going to say when the other person’s mouth stops moving.

“Spiritual experts call this a form of Divine Listening. It’s the practice of listening without conjuring up your own inner dialogue. …

“Research on empathy shows that when someone ruminates on his or her own distress, and is defensive, it is difficult to feel empathy for someone else. This is because people become aggressive or immobilized when they feel threatened.”

Bernstein offers several strategies for a peaceful dinner scene, among them:

“Accept your emotions. Your feelings don’t have to dictate your actions, says Susan David, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of “Emotional Agility.”

“Research shows that people who suppress their feelings have a diminished sense of well-being, Dr. David says. They also find that emotions they have ignored will bubble up at the worst time. …

“Dr. David cautions against what she calls a common cognitive bias: We judge ourselves by our intentions but others by their actions, [That’s true in ethics, as well]. ‘People are more than just one vote,’ she says.

“Plan for the ‘if-then’ scenario. Coach yourself on how you might respond in a calm way if a certain topic comes up. Strategies might include reminding yourself to take deep breaths, or politely excusing yourself to help in the kitchen if you need a break.

“Remember the other person is complex. No one is perfect. ‘Everyone is trying to make sense of the world and do their best,’ says Dr. David.

“So try to see each family member as a well-rounded being. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. But you need to recognize that they have other life experiences that have informed their views.

“Use ‘I’ but not ‘you’ statements. ‘I feel nervous,’ is fine. ‘If someone tells me they are sad or angry or upset, I am empathic,’ says Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. ‘But using a judgmental statement—I am upset because of what you did—is a difficult way to start a conversation.’

“Take a cue from the Zulus. They have a greeting, ‘Sawubona,’ that roughly translates as ‘I see you, and by seeing you I bring you into being.’

“Dr. David, who grew up in South Africa under Apartheid, says we need to see our own emotions and make room for them. And we need to see others as complex human beings.

” ‘How can we bring our country together if we can’t bring the holiday table together?’ she says.”

Ultimately, “Life is a mirror,” American Theologian Ernest Holmes wrote, “and will reflect back to the thinker what he [or she] thinks into it.”

This Thanksgiving, I vow to go “cold turkey” on all negative thoughts. Today, I am grateful for ALL that I have, give and receive, oh… and a little laughter doesn’t hurt, either!

Here’s another piece of sly satire from Obi-Wan Piraro:



  1. Great Bizarro cartoons as always. Yes, lets do the best we can to create and keep peace in our own homes and families. Good suggestions: “Coach yourself on how you might respond in a calm way if a certain topic comes up. Strategies might include reminding yourself to take deep breaths, or politely excusing yourself”…there is always a bathroom…

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