Setting the Thanksgiving Table for Civility

This week Americans across the country will be sitting down with family and friends to take part in the one holiday where we give thanks for all the blessings in our life — many of whom, if we are lucky, are seated at the table with us.

Unfortunately in recent years, family gatherings have become a bit tricky for many of us. Instead of sharing old family stories, embarrassing siblings by repeating their long ago exploits or enjoying holding the newest baby in the family, we cringe when Uncle Dick starts talking politics, Aunt Bobbie points out the flaws in his argument and the dining room table turns into a political battlefield.

In an effort to keep the damage at the table limited to cranberry sauce on great grandmother’s white linen table cloth, the National Institute for Civil Discourse would like to share some ideas on ways to avoid having the Thanksgiving table turn into a family civil war by providing three questions that can be asked of all who gather at your table:

  • What are you most thankful for about living in America?
  • How do you feel about the deep divisions and incivility we see now in our country?
  • What can we do to revive civility and respect and find more effective ways to work together?

Last week, in conjunction with Faith and Politics, we asked members of Congress — House and Senate, Republican, Democrat and Independent — these same questions to help us Set the Table and you can click here to watch them. You might be surprised at some of their answers and be encouraged by their thoughts on how we can revive civility and respect not only at our dinner table but in the nation’s capital as well.

All of us at the National Institute for Civil Discourse wish you and your family a Thanksgiving filled with love, laughter, family and friends, good food and a civil dinner conversation.