In my house, no topic is spared from the dinner table: politics, religion, fashion, literature, food, love, heartbreak.  The conversation feeds us as much as the meal.  We ignore Emily Post’s advice in Etiquette to “Talk about things which you think will be agreeable to your hearer. Don’t dilate on ills, misfortune, or other unpleasantnesses. The one in greatest danger of making enemies is the man or woman of brilliant wit.”  A society in danger is one who ignores the unpleasant. If we cannot discuss “ills, misfortunes or other unpleasantnesses” with our friends and family in a shared private space, then what hope do we have facing them with strangers in a shared community space?  If a healthy society is one that is critical and not just celebratory, then pass the olives and the side of critique please.


(Note on the image: My grandmother reading my fortune in my cup of Turkish coffee.  Istanbul, June 2012)


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