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I'm looking forward to seeing my brother, but not his politics. I should wait for after the encounter before writing about it. Projecting what could happen doesn't mean it will happen. We have a history.

I'm as liberal as they come. I love to learn about new things in science, economics, arts and more. I have a graduate degree and work in education and health care administration. My younger brother is more conservative than Karl Rove, uses the same logic tree as Sarah Palin and is as anti-intellectual as you would expect any card holder to the World is Flat Club to be. To say having a conversation with him is difficult is putting a spin on the reality of the situation.

None the less, he's my brother and I genuinely like talking to him about sailing, painting, home improvements, places to go, exercise (we both weight train), food (his wife is a chef) and more. We should do well tonight because he just bought a sail boat and he went to the boat show in town this weekend. We do well as long as we avoid politics, fracking, recycling, taxes, oil prices, renewable energy, education (they have no kids), food safety, any form of regulation and guns.

My brother and I can navigate conversations that turn toward the "forbidden" subjects, but his wife, my husband and my daughter don't. I will make light of a tense moment with a quip only to have my brother decide that he has to make a point. Then my husband steps in to tell my brother to buzz off while my sister-in-law and daughter get exasperated. So, for this evening there will be no quips, just awkward silences when my brother says something on a "forbidden" subject. I. will. not. bring. "it". up. He will and I will have to ignore it. Lovely.

What I would like this evening is to have a good time talking about things of mutual interest which could include some aspect of politics and an exchange of ideas about our differing vantage points of our world view, but that can't happen. It can't happen because it gets too heated followed up with some uncalled for personal bashing. I have the advantage of years in experience of mediating discussions between passionate factions, but all the experience in the world doesn't help when one side is hell bent on blowing up the conversation.

I can usually pull back and take a top down view of any topic at hand. My jobs have forced me into the habit of sizing up any given topic from multiple perspectives. It takes practice to pull passion out of discussion, but in business that's an imperative. It's ok to be passionate, it's also imperative to observe etiquette. It takes practice to stop, take a breath and find a less incendiary way to make my point. I will be sharing a dinner table with professionals that are good at what they do, but none of them are deal makers. None of them see the point of making nice when they have a "principle" at stake.

It's not than I'm some rainmaker or I'd be far wealthier than I am, but I'm good at deescalating situations when I'm dealing with people who are interested in deescalation. That's the biggest problem I'm going to deal with tonight. I want a pleasant evening out and am willing to keep things on the light side. My brother is probably thinking he has another chance to straighten me out. heh, not a chance, but that doesn't mean I won't be nice about it.  

What's happening between my brother and his wife and my family is playing out across our nation. Families divided by politics. Friends divided by politics. People losing their jobs because they have a differing opinion than management. We've lost our civility and no one seems to miss it.

Anyway, wish me luck.

UPDATE: We got home last night late. Things went quite well. Mostly because both my brother and I tended to talk about non-controversial subjects like sailing, boats, boat show, food, woozles, pooties, ceramic tile (they're renovating their bathrooms) and all things "normal". It was a good strategy that makes for a pleasant evening.

After dinner we decided to continue the evening like old times and had a hilarious game of Phase 10 speed rounds where you play 10 rounds total and you can choose which phase you want to play for based on your hand (a departure from the rules). I highly recommend games like this when dealing with family and friends you love, but can't converse with over public policy of any sort.

The evening went well until the news popped on and there was a recap of the Dorner case and my SIL was predictable - he's crazed and deserved to die. My daughter beat my husband to it "Based on what trial conviction was Dorner guilty?" Ok, that was intense, but my brother got the point, "Yeah, it's too bad we won't have a trial on that. Now, if someone would just discard the right card, I could go out." The evening would have proceeded well, but my SIL said, "Well, that guy was a nut job anyway. We won't miss him." I Grimaced, but didn't reply, my daughter wasn't going to let that fly, "While I don't condone murder, we don't have proof presented in court that Dorner was the murderer and his manifesto is the not rambling ravings of an insane man. He was specific about names and events that he presented in a tight report like format that was easy to follow. Insane people usually aren't easy to understand. That manifesto is easy to understand. We aren't likely to ever know the truth of the matter, because the LAPD has a LOOONNNNGGGG history of running like a boys club instead of a professional police department and the federal DOJ can't get off their lazy ass and do a proper investigation." I'm thinking, "Well go chibi", however, the strong attack seemed to work coming from the least likely among us to engage in "forbidden" subject conversation. My SIL took one look and wisely said, "I'll look it up."

WE went back to the game. Passed a pleasant couple of hours and all is good. I didn't check on this because I went to bed. Thanks for the rescue and I guess at one point I was on the Rec list. Thank you all.

Originally posted to JDWolverton on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 02:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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