Episode 18: How to survive Turkey Day (and Uncle George) in the age of Trump

It’s time for the quintessential American holiday. Are you looking ahead to the table talk over the cranberries and turkey with anticipation or dread? Or to put it another way: What to do about Uncle George, who, after that first glass of wine, always begins spouting opinions that make you crazy? The Committee of Seventy is ready with your Thanksgiving Day “survival through civility” guide. Two seasoned experts in civil dialogue – Dr. Harris Sokoloff of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement and Sharon Browning of the JUSTListening – share practical wisdom on how to craft a conversation over the stuffing that’ll add light and understanding, not heat and ill feeling. (See below.) And Seventy CEO David Thornburgh adds some thoughts on how curiosity, humility and empathy make the holiday work out better for all. Listen to episode 18 on Soundcloud. Subscribe via iTunes

Sharon Browning of JUSTListening suggests several questions that could be posed to the folks around the Thanksgiving Day table to get everyone in a reflective, thankful, authentically patriotic mood. Here they are:

  • Whom do you care most about in your life and what is your American dream for them?
  • What does it feel like to be an American? What is the best part of being an American?
  • What are your most deeply held and cherished values? What do they look like?
  • What issue in your life causes you the most concern. Ideally, how would you like to see it resolved?
  • What do you think needs to happen to bring the country together? What can you do personally to begin the healing?
  • How do the actions and policies of the Trump administration impact you directly? What is your personal stake in what is happening politically in our country? Please give examples from your own life, your own story.
  • What would allow us to work together to address and solve our common problem(s)?
  • What do you need to form trusting relationships in which we can truly listen to and understand each other?


On the podcast, Dr. Harris Sokoloff of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement suggests taking these questions and distributing them around the table, so that each guest addresses one question.

For more tips on how to a have a civil and satisfying Thanksgiving dialogue in these uncivil and stressful times, listen to the full podcast.

And if you like that one, listen to previous episodes on SoundCloud.

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