Monday, November 19, 2012

Holidays and the Diplomat's Dinner Table

Do we even celebrate holidays any more in America?

We do stuff, yes:
 We spend money.
 We drink.
 We complain to friends.
 We travel, or we host others.
 We dread the tension and conflict.
 We worry.

Where is the celebration in all this? 

Holiday commercials are supposed to represent the middle ground where conflicts and tensions have been resolved and where relationships have been negotiated. These commercials may be the most aspirational of all, even more so than those of luxury brands, because there's a stronger emotional hook for a wider audience. People in the commercials are attractive, presentable, sometimes even clubbable. We gaze on our own families and despair.

The dinner table at the center of many family celebrations is a treacherous place, but the messages we get during the holidays ignore that.

The dinner table on TV is that of the diplomat, the professional trained to navigate through nuance, subterfuge, and concealment.

Is diplomacy possible any more for those who do not live and work as diplomats?

People bemoan the general loss of cordiality, yet we don't discuss the hard work of self-restraint required for tactful, considered communication. The middle ground of forbearance and circumspection begins to look like Iwo Jima.

My motto this year comes from the film Wargames:

"The only winning move is not to play."

No comments: