All of a sudden, everyone is talking about civil war. Books are being written, pundits are pontificating, people are eyeing the cannons on the Statehouse lawn.
I know the nation is polarized and all that, but surely that doesn’t mean we’re headed for armed conflict. We have lots of Civil War reenactors — couldn’t they just be asked to stage more proxy battles to ease tensions?
In times like these, you might be asking “What can I, the average citizen, do to prevent sparking a nationwide conflagration?” I have no foolproof answers, but I do have a few questionable ones. And that’s why I’m calling today’s column “Five Simple Things Every American Can Do to Avoid Starting a Civil War.”
Here are my suggestions:
Send a casserole to your neighbors
You might have political differences, but an act of kindness can go a long way toward keeping the peace. Just don’t include any ingredients that could be misinterpreted. In a tense atmosphere, the sight of tofu could set off red-meat conservatives. Likewise, baking up a dish composed of animals you poached on a survivalist weekend might be the last straw for anti-gun liberals.
Bland is best. Just pour some cream of mushroom soup over a chicken breast and call it a day.
Keep conversations light
In this tinderbox of a nation, weather discussions often devolve into shouting matches over climate change. Next thing you know, the 3rd Mississippi Infantry is marching on Washington.
If you’re going to talk weather, say nothing about temperature, please. Stick to wind speed and barometric pressure. It’s OK to remark on a puffy cloud formation but don’t drag in politics by saying it resembles Steve Bannon.
Don’t drive a vehicle that makes a statement
That would include the following: Tesla (too blue-state), pickup truck (too red-state), monster truck (too rural), scooter (too urban), Volvo (too Swedish), Popemobile (too religious), armored limousine with gun ports (too Vladimir Putin).
Also, remember that hybrids can be seen as offensively green and self-righteous. If you’re going to drive one, invite a thief to steal the catalytic converter first to soften the environmental message.
Recognize the hidden messages pets can send
If you have an illegal pet tiger, people are going to conclude that you’re an anti-regulation Republican, no matter what you say. Best keep that pet indoors. And if your labradoodle is named after a prominent Democratic politician, avoid yelling “Here, Biden, here, Biden,” for all the neighborhood to hear.
Rethink your book club
Book clubs foster discussion. People are too on edge for discussion. Wouldn’t it be nuts if the conflict that split the nation was sparked in someone’s living room by competing opinions of “Eat, Pray, Love”? So don’t read any books at your club. Just serve wine. A tipsy nation is a peaceful nation.
Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Joe Blundo offers five tips to avoid starting a civil war