Monday, December 21, 2009

The Young and the Restless

Politics is defined loosely as who gets what, when and where.

Sounds a little like Christmas, don't you think?

If you are political and ambitious, the holidays might present an interesting challenge. You could choose to send politically correct "holiday" cards to the audience who will usher you in to victory at the next election. At some level you sincerely mean the wishes of good health and peace, but there is an ulterior motive. You are trying to win votes. For some, this is a conflict. For others, it's the game.

If you are a twenty-something coming of age in the digital era during a recession and a war on terrorism, the holidays might introduce the first of many chapters of family politics. You define yourself and stand apart from your kin yet simultaneously long to be recognized and accepted. Some of us have been that young adult. We graduated from college blessed and burdened with the knowledge that what our family told us was true about the world is not universally accepted. There is another view - and another way of life that is attractive, and feels good. You might express yourself and your cerebral awakening with long hair or vintage clothes. You might acquire a taste for strong black coffee, rioja and green olives. You reject, for a while anyway, red meat.  

The irony of studying and traveling on the family dime only to mature and find yourself at odds with some fundamental principles once believed to be self-evident is not lost. You see a crack in the ice and cold water separating yourself from the very people who raised and nurtured you, and put you on that plane to Europe with $500 and a back-pack full of clean clothes and wishes of safety.

All politics is about compromise. The elected officials who were passionate and unwavering on their soap box during the campaign learn quickly ideology takes a back seat when the election is over and governing begins.

The family, together for a day or two around the holidays, recognizes the common ground and embraces the differences among its tribe. There is compromise of a different sort. Tolerance is a value both old and young acquire for the survival and celebration of a shared journey.

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