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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Disagreement a blessing over Thanksgiving

The phrase heard most often over Thanksgiving dinner at the Swenson household: “”God, Dad, you are so dumb!””

Like many college students, I disagree with my parents on many, many issues. From gay marriage, to the drinking age, to whether Bush was the best or the worst president in U.S. history, we get into some pretty violent fork gesturing on issues both trivial and serious.

I call my dad “”dumb”” with a laugh, and he jokingly tells me I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. I’ve given up trying to convince him of anything, and I think he has pretty much given up on changing my mind, too. But for all the times I pretend to throw my napkin at him across the table, I’ve learned from what I used to think was just my old man’s stubborn closed-mindedness.

While not seeing eye-to-eye with Dad used to bother me more, it wasn’t really because I thought he was stupid or uninformed on the issues. I thought he was wrong. With regards to every issue, I thought there was one right answer, which was of course my answer. I didn’t want to listen to him or anything he had to say about things we didn’t share beliefs on. 

But in moving away from home and having to deal with people who don’t answer dissenters with a smiling chide, I learned that I was lucky to disagree with my dad. Now that I’ve heard his more conservative take on the issues, I can consider my position more fully and argue a point more effectively.

I am a more informed voter for all the arguments I’ve had with my parents. I’m barely an adult, what would I know of property taxes, insurance policy and health care if I didn’t listen to my parents? Being incensed by things my Dad would say inspired me to look up what a policy actually is and what other people say about it. I am so grateful for the contrast my conservative parents provide to the mostly liberal atmosphere in a university — it has made me both a more passionate and a more considerate voter and person.

We usually think we’re right because we’re young, potent and passionate, but it’s convenient to forget that our parents were once young as well. My mom graduated from the UA in December of 1981, a time of economic recession. Her experience during those tough times and how the government then dealt with it shape much of her opinion on economic policy today. I don’t always agree with what she says, but I’ve learned to listen. She has the benefit of experience and hindsight, while I have only amateur rhetoric and hypothetical situations to back up my views.

Many of our parents were young during the Vietnam War, when the threat of the draft was real. Some of us hope to stop the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; well, that generation did stop a war much more effectively than our weak peace efforts. Rather than calling them old and irrelevant, we would do well to learn from them.

I still don’t think my dad is right about everything. But instead of turning my ears off and closing my mind to his views, I’ve learned to listen — even if it is only when he asks me to pass the gravy at Thanksgiving dinner.

— Anna Swenson is a sophomore majoring in English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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