It may have come to your attention that the world is a really amped-up place right now.

You noticed, yes? There’s a heck of a lot going on – wars, inflation, politics – and thanks to the beauty of social media, we now have access to all kinds of different flavours of information, about all those various subjects.

And because we’re clever monkeys, most of us have then gone on to form opinions, based on that information. Often very strong ones!

You also may have noticed that we tend to hang out with people that already share our opinions and values. It’s just so much easier that way, and we spend less time arguing.

But then – the Holidays come. And the inevitable conversations ensue.

We all know how the energy shifts in a room as soon as one of the dreaded “subjects” comes up (whichever one it may be for your household). The temperature drops – almost as if a ghost has entered the room. Look out, everyone! It’s the Ghost of Strongly Held Opinions, coming to wreak its havoc!

Now, most of us have found ourselves in at least one of the possible positions when an argument breaks out. We are either:

1) Trying to convince someone of their deeply inherent Wrongness on a topic
2) Defending your dearly held opinion on a topic
3) Slowly sinking into your chair and hoping that something in the kitchen might catch on fire

Truly, none of these positions are enviable, and none of them feel particularly good. So how do we hit the brakes before things progress to the point?

This is where ReImagine West Shore has your back.

You may notice that a lot of arguments are about big concepts like climate change or what not – and while these issues are important, unless you folks are head of the World Bank or a big shaker at the UN (which I guess in Victoria, is always possible), then it’s not going to have a huge impact on what you believe on many of these subjects.

What MATTERS, however, is what we do, and what actions we take. In that realm, regardless of your politics, there is so much overlap in action that we can all agree on.

When things get heated (or even better, before!), try changing the subject to:

  • Growing more of our own food – You can ask older folks if they remember how England became self-sufficient with both medicine AND food within months during WWII, and what things might help people grow a bit more of their own food.
  • Fixing more of our own things – Everyone is pissed off at how quickly stuff breaks nowadays – talk about the idea of Repair Cafes and how more of those could get started!
  • Heat Pumps and weather-proofing – If Climate Change is a bugaboo subject in your house, maybe avoid the issue and talk about how to deal with the weather we’ve been having, and trade tips and information on what you know regarding systems that could help.
  • Upcycling and creating – Ever notice how the term “consumer” is used so often, and the term “creator” only rarely? (Or citizen, for that matter?) That’s a neat conversation to dive into – and ask folks if they have any projects they’re working on or would like to work on. You might be surprised what people are into!

All the above actions save money – which is probably of the only things we can all agree is a good thing these days. And all these things involve tangible, touchable things – not abstract ideas, but grounded, grassroots action. This is where we can make the biggest difference, and where we have the most in common.

So, if things are getting amped, and that feeling of “otherness” is coming on – that the other person is wrong, and this is a war you just HAVE TO win – take a breath and remember that there’s a whole host of things we can agree on and discuss happily! Like how to save money, how to be more creative, how to meet more people in our community. These are hard things to argue about. (But of course, for the hardened experts, not impossible :P)

And if those big conversations do come up – be CURIOUS, not judgemental; ask for more information, and if new information comes to light, don’t be afraid to admit you were mistaken, or that you’ll think about a new perspective. After all, that’s how we evolve, right?

Happy Holidays to all you Langfordites, Metchosinites, Colwoodians, Highlanders and View Royalers! Wishing you so much creativity and energy in 2024 – and we’ll see you out there!

– ReImagine West Shore