Friday, December 3, 2010

It’s time to have THE TALK!

I did something really challenging at Thanksgiving – I made my family TALK. Yes, somehow I corralled everyone into the same stockyard and got them away from the caloric turkey-trough, computers, and TV for a few minutes of an actual honest to goodness, face to face, 'blab-fest'. Better yet, this was not some inane ‘convo’ about Black Friday deals or the annoying antics of wanna-be starlets and reality TV freaks. No this was the sizzling fresh and uncomfortably hot topic about their personal opinions on, of all things, IMMIGRATION.

Now before you light your hair on fire and run for the border in disgust with passport in hand like my family attempted, trust me, my motives were not actually political at all. You see, I recently had the opportunity to join a ‘digital media’ class taught by our local PBS television affiliate known as the ‘nineNetwork’ here in St. Louis. We met for about 15 hours a week for close to a month and the studio provided media professionals to teach our classes how to film stories and edit interviews using their HD video cameras and Apple’s ‘Final Cut’ software to edit the finished product.

The nineNetwork, is currently producing a television documentary called ‘Homeland’ which attempts to address the immigration issue from personal perspectives rather than the typical political one. If all goes well, you should see the end product on your local PBS station by Spring 2011. I’ve linked the site address HERE should you wish to piece together a new perspective on the immigration issue, or simply want to leave a ‘piece of your mind’. Regardless, all comments are encouraged and welcome as they all ultimately contribute to the overall understanding and relevancy of this much maligned topic.

While it was certainly challenging to venture out of my comfort zone to play ‘cub’ reporter / editor and interview strangers for a few weeks; I was surprised at how rewarding it was to simply sit with my own family members and talk to them too. Oh sure, we ‘jaw’ all the time just like you do with your own brood on the day’s work, weather, cars, TV etc. But rarely do we all sit around a table and look at each other ‘eye to eye’ and dare discuss controversial current events like immigration. Too much fear that somebody might take offense or judge one another poorly, especially when compounded with the stress of a holiday get-together.

Happily however, it turned into a very rewarding experience for all. It seemed that once the initial shyness of recording comments for posterity had evaporated, the group honestly enjoyed having the chance to ‘speak-up’, listen, and interact without constraints, and ‘on the record’. Even after the ‘official’ roundtable had ended and the camera was bagged, the conversation continued. My wife commented later in private, that she had learned something NEW about her brother after nearly 46 years and she had really enjoyed the overall discussion.

So the moral of the story is ‘HAVE THE TALK’! Find a way to muzzle the electronics and endless media onslaught for just a few minutes per week and have a conversation TOGETHER with the people who YOU know best and SHOULD know you. Don’t be afraid – it’s actually loads of fun and you may end up learning (or teaching) something new. No you won’t always agree, nor will you or your family's opinions always be appreciated or particularly insightful, but that’s not the point. Your mission as an immigrant to this brave new world of familial conversation, is to simply crack the door open into the ancient but lost art, as a respectful SOURCE of discourse of course. Enjoy!