The Topics We’re Too Afraid to Talk About

The Topics We’re Too Afraid to Talk About

“This ruling makes us look weak, which, by the way, we no longer are.”

Those were the words of Donald Trump on Wednesday after a federal judge in Hawaii put a hold on his new travel ban. (Just hours later, a second federal judge also blocked his executive order.)

As usual, Trump’s words got me thinking. This time, about strength and weakness. How do we perceive strength? How do we perceive weakness? And what are they both, actually?

President Trump is a master at using provocative statements to grab our attention and grab headlines. The recent wiretap dust-up is simply his latest pronouncement to send shockwaves around the world.

As I have written before, President Trump has certainly stirred up our citizenry. Just this week, I found myself in deep conversation with my daughter about the ins and outs of our healthcare system: deductibles, co-pays, employer-sponsored healthcare, Medicaid expansion, mental health parity, Planned Parenthood and more.

It was, at times, a fascinating, overwhelming, infuriating and maddening issue to discuss, but it was also really good to be talking about something that affects so many of us.

In fact, I love talking to my kids, my family and my friends about subjects that many people say you shouldn’t talk about. I think it’s important to talk about topics that some find too provocative (like the Snoop Dogg video), but that others just consider uncomfortable.

So, today in The Sunday Paper, we decided to talk about provocative subject matter that we are often told not to discuss: Money. Sex. Religion. Our differences. The Architects of Change highlighted below are pushing boundaries on all of those fronts. Sallie Krawcheck: On women and money. Nicole Daedone: On sex and connection. Christine Caine: On religion and shame. Allie Pohl: On body image. Katie Meyler: On female worth. Kristen Visbal: On female strength.


My mother once had the provocative thought that people with intellectual disabilities were just as capable as everyone else. That’s what inspired her to start the Special Olympics, and now close to 50 years later, the games have proven to the world that individuals with intellectual disabilities can compete in every area of life. This weekend, thousands of athletes will gather from all over the world in Austria for the Winter World Games to show the world that “yes, they can.”

The Special Olympics is again proof that raising an unpopular thought or tackling a provocative topic can indeed change the world.

For me, Sundays are a great time to gather around the dinner table to talk about all of the hard topics of our time. That includes the revised health care proposal, our dysfunctional political system, and why the nation’s cabinet looks nothing like the people it represents.

Is that provocative? Slow down, pause, and ask yourself, “Is there any truth to that?” “What do I think of those subjects?” Once you get to thinking, for sure you will get to talking. The truth is, if we are going to evolve as people and as a country, we have got to get comfortable with subjects we are uncomfortable talking about. It’s the only way for us to move forward.

Race. Religion. Sex. Money. Drugs. Addiction. Alzheimer’s. Healthcare, and who’s going to pay for what. Believe it or not, these are the conversations that can actually bring us together instead of driving us apart. Why? Because these are things we all have in common. And when you find things in common, that’s where you can actually begin to build common ground.

That leads me back to strength.

I never bought into the idea that America was weak. In my mind, it has always been strong. It was built by strong men and women whose ideals, values and determination made it so, and it has been sustained by the very same kinds of people, whose inner strength is on display all around us every day. It may not grab headlines, but it’s there for all of us to see.

True strength is an inside job. That’s also something we don’t talk enough about, but it’s true. A country doesn’t go from weak to strong just because someone says it does. America is the strongest idea in the world. Its strength comes from the foundation of its idea and the inner fortitude of all of its citizens, who toil day in and day out to hold it together. There has never been, nor will there ever be, anything weak about that.

So, gather your family and friends. Put the hard topics on the table and see where the conversation leads you. Just get to talking. That in itself is provocative.

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