20. A Christmas Upgrade

Christmas with the family. It’s a wonderful time and a difficult time.

You remember how much you need and love your family.

You are also reminded again how totally different you are from a lot of these people, who you never really chose to be your family, except your spouse.

One thing that always strikes me is that most of my family, like most people I meet, are preoccupied with talking about things and events. What in some circles are termed ‘small talk’. Like:

” … last time I was in the supermarket there was this offer … ” (= a thing, often some thing you have purchased)

“Then we took the kids home from swimming and they made this funny … ” ( = an event, often concerned with some thing relatively trivial that the children did or did not)

Political or social events are referred to, but often poorly remembered.

And if there is a lack of clear memory about the content or significance or consequence of the event vs. an opinion, then the opinion almost without exception wins out, before checking the facts. Like:

“There was this TV-show – I don’t remember its name/when it was broadcasted – about crime. And there was this story about an old woman who had been robbed in her home. In the old days you could be safe … nowadays … ”

We have 24/7 access to the Internet and a plethora of sources which are – still – reliable, but I’ve never once overheard in a family conversation:

“I don’t remember the clear facts about this – let’s check it on Wikipedia or call up the story on the website of The Preferred News Channel!”


That bothers me, but I’ve learned to accept it. We are all different and that’s just how it is.

The reason may be education …  Aside from my sister-in-law, Char and I are the only ones in that Christmas family gathering who have masters degrees.

Then again, it may not be.

For, I don’t recall having experienced fact-checking either for a very long time in any conversation with people who has an education level equal to mine.

So in that regard there isn’t an awful lot of difference between my family and, say, some of my friends or fellow entrepreneurs – despite differences in education level.

The only difference of importance is perhaps myself.

You see, I don’t get bothered so much that when I discuss, say, the actual prevalence of racism with my highly educated friends, but without basis.

I do get bothered when some of my immediate family lapse into more or less thinly veiled racist remarks, without basis.

The difference is that I agree with my highly educated friends most of the time – and especially about immigration politics.

On the other hand, I almost always disagree with my family about politics – and especially about immigration politics.

I have little doubt that my attitude towards immigration which I consider rooted in an empathetic, open-minded and realistic perspective is the best suited to deal with both the challenges of immigration (which are there whether we like it or not).

Or that it is an example for the kind of society that we should strive to develop.

I have little doubt that other attitudes towards immigration which I consider rooted in an antipathetic, closed-minded and unrealistic perspective (“close the borders!”) are the worst suited to deal with challenges of immigration.

And to be an example of a society we should strive for.

But perhaps my own antipathy towards people who don’t fact-check could do with an upgrade.

That would probably make a big difference.