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Connie Schultz urges readers to talk politics in order to educate their family and friends in her column, “Time To Talk Politics At The Dinner Table:”

We all have heard the admonishment that polite people never discuss politics or religion at the dinner table.

Forgive me, but that sounds like a big part of the problem right now in America.

I grew up in a small working-class town in northeast Ohio. In our Protestant home, the dining room table faced the Jack-and-Jesus wall. Under Mom’s watchful gaze in 1961, Dad had hung a painting of Christ next to an official-looking portrait of President John F. Kennedy. Once, a neighbor and fellow Presbyterian breathlessly pointed to the wall and declared that Kennedy was a Catholic. Mom smiled and assured her that God loved everyone — even bigots. That was a short visit.

Our table manners were impeccable, thanks to my mother. Our politics were part of the menu, thanks to my father, who worked at the local power plant and was a proud member of the Utility Workers, Local 270.

Reminders of Dad’s work were everywhere in our house, from the potholders printed with images of Reddy Kilowatt, the cartoon mascot of the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co., to the electrical outlets and light switches in every room. So often, I’d flick a switch and hear my mother chirp, “Thank your father for that light.” As far as Mom was concerned, every volt of electricity to 1225 W. Prospect Rd. was delivered on the brawny shoulders of her husband, Chuck Schultz.

Another reminder of Dad’s work came in a bound union contract that he tucked in his back pocket every day before he left for the plant. At night, he’d lay it next to his watch and wallet on my parents’ dresser.

Photo by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

When it rains, pieces of glass, pottery, and metal rise through the mud in the hills surrounding my Maryland home. The other day, I walked outside barefoot to fetch one of my kid's shoes and a pottery shard stabbed me in the heel. Nursing a minor infection, I wondered how long that fragment dated back.

A neighbor of mine found what he said looked like a cartridge case from an old percussion-cap rifle in his pumpkin patch. He told us that the battle of Monocacy had been fought on these grounds in July 1864, with 1,300 Union and 900 Confederate troops killed or wounded here. The stuff that surfaces in my fields when it storms may or may not be battle artifacts, but it does remind me that the past lingers and that modern America was formed in a civil war.

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