Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Late to the table

17 Comments

“Doesn’t anyone cook anymore?” I asked my husband as we stood in a long restaurant line after 7 p.m. on a Monday evening. We were, actually, there because I didn’t want to cook. Apparently not a unique position.

“But you usually cook,” he replied and I felt better somehow.

Now I wonder if cooking could have more than just health benefits. If you stretch your imagination a bit, think outside the box, maybe cooking could help fix what ails our country.

From the garden.

Don’t discount me immediately. That’s one of the problems we all have right now; we make instant decision about what’s right and what’s wrong before we hear a person out.

I have lots of time to think as I’m chopping and dicing, stirring and folding, preparing food for dinner. Today I’m making the marinara sauce for tomorrow’s eggplant parmesan.

And I’m thinking as I’m chopping onion and garlic that the problems facing our country, and the world, are so huge, so unsolvable, so much bigger than me. That I really have nothing to say that could change anything.

And yet.

I’ reading the articles and listening to interviews that point out people who stay silent are in fact condoning the hate and violence we all witnessed via twenty-four hour news this past weekend. Incidents that we’ve seen on other days too, prior to this weekend, and what we will likely witness in the days ahead.

I know I’m late to the table, but I don’t condone those hateful, racist, violent actions. I’m quiet because I don’t know what I, an individual, someone who hates politics on a good day, can do? What difference can my voice make?

It’s clear to me that the talking heads on television and on the radio aren’t going to fix the problem. The panels of people they bring in to ‘discuss’ the issues are entrenched in their own opinions, are spewing out the party line, give nonsensical answers to hard questions. Nothing is going to get resolved by watching their arguments.

And no one watching is going to change the minds they have already made up.

As I continue to chop and stir I contemplate the hateful events of the weekend, the political responses. The lack of response from me. And I realize that the only thing to change a person’s mind is talking, really talking, to another person.

And what better place to talk than over the slow preparation of a healthy meal?

One person listening to another person without forming judgement. And then having a chance to quietly, with logic and care express an opposing opinion. And continuing that discussion over the meal thoughtfully put together.

Getting to know someone who is different than yourself takes time and work and sometimes the overcoming of fear. But that’s the only way to make change in the world; getting to know people who are different than we are.

Chopping and thinking.

Oh I know the hate filled members of many white supremacist groups aren’t likely to have a calm discussion with anyone. They’re looking to escalate the hate. But there are plenty of people sitting on a fence about many of these issues, people that maybe voted in a different way than you or I might have. People who might feel strongly but may also feel a little doubt creeping in.

There are people from different religions with different ideas, people from different cultures, or just different upbringings who have ideas that deserve to be shared. Everyone has a story, and each story adds to the strength and value of all of us if we only listen.

There is actually much a quiet person like me can do.

So as I put the eggplant dish together I think I’ll push myself outside my comfort zone. I’ll try to stand up for that person getting bullied, voice another opinion when I think it needs to be heard, invite someone I don’t know to engage in thoughtful debate. I’ll stop reacting to Facebook politics, for either side, because that’s too easy, too anonymous and only reinforces opinions deeply held on polar opposite sides of any issue.

Lots of different flavors all stirred together in one pot.

And while I’m trying to understand the other side of some argument, maybe I can put together a simple meal and sit down and talk about it . Without rancor, without despair, without judgement.

Maybe a discussion held over a healthy meal won’t change anyone’s mind. But maybe it will. And at worst I’ll get a good meal, one I don’t have to stand in line for on a hot summer Monday night.

Maybe what our world needs is a food revolution of a different kind.

Summer hope.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

17 thoughts on “Late to the table

  1. As I reflect on how to respond it occurs to me that maybe people were out in droves at the restaurant that night so that they could be in a safe, social context. Prove, in some sub-conscious way, that the world is still safe.

    But that’s all so much armchair analysis. What I really want to say is that I agree with you, completely.

    Yours is one of many posts in my feed these last few days, reflecting on Charlottesville. Most writers are expressing “What can we do? It’s so complex! It’s bigger than my puny efforts.”

    I get that: the panic, the fear, the anger, and the deep sense of loss.

    I agree, your words won’t change the minds of the racist demonstrators. I agree, it is time to speak up, to support the people who are in a position to make a change. Speak firmly, and confidently, and with compassion. People will more likely respond to compassion, or, say an invitation to to meal, than they will to angry demands and threats.

    Live with kindness and know that small steps are just as important as big ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, small steps among many people grow to large steps. It’s really the only way to make change. I don’t see why communities can’t have cook ins with diverse groups bringing food from their cultures, then sitting down together to get to know each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. wonderful…in theory……….sadly those who need to be a part of the discussion……….won’t be present.

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  3. so true about those small steps.

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  4. My neighborhood girls went out for breakfast yesterday morning. Four of us, split down the middle politically. Against my better judgment, I brought up my frustrations, and, surprisingly, we managed to have a reasonable discussion. I think that is good, but what isn’t good is the fact that the White House thunderstorms will continue to pour down on us.

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    • Good for you. I’m like you, I don’t want to rock the boat among my family and friends. I’m usually silent. But I know I have a lot of friends that are on opposite side of political issues from me. Yet we’re good friends. I don’t want to risk those friendships, but as you saw, sometimes the friendship is stronger than the fear, and worth the risk to understand each other better. The White House thunderstorms? We can’t control that. We can only control, as with anything that worries us, scares us, angers us, how we react to things that make no sense from that direction.

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  5. I agree with you that talking with people who have different views, calmly, reasonably is the only way to dig out of the two trenches so many people are stuck inside. It should be easy to talk to neighbours and friends, right? Why is it hard though? I’m afraid I’ll be attacked for my opinions or ridiculed or rejected. But maybe if people could meet on neutral ground, like a kitchen table, it might be possible. I love this post, Dawn. So honest and heartfelt and thoughtful.

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    • It’s hard because there is so much to lose when you’re talking to family and neighbors and friends. And because we grew up taught not to talk about politics! 🙂 But I think communities, groups of people that don’t know each other, could meet around a big kitchen table and learn about each other and find out there is much that is the same between us, and very little to hate.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re so right, Dawn. Lots of studies have shown that a lot of prejudice is due to people simply not having contact with those they consider to be “other.” (Pick any category you like, religion, orientation, ethnicity, it holds true.) People living in a homogenous area, like a small town that is almost completely white protestant, form opinions based on the larger culture, news coverage, etc., and not real experience of interacting with a variety of types of people. Most such people don’t even understand that those opinions are prejudiced because they are based on prejudice. Once people do interact with each other they discover that even if the details, like religious belief, are different, we all have so much more in common because we’re all human. Socializing over a meal is an almost universal thing, no matter background or culture, so it’s an excellent way to go.

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  7. I like the way you intertwined cooking a meal into this discussion you have raised. It softens it, much like your desire for a meal around the table to soften a talk about politics. Then I want to laugh, only because in my family, with my son, that is the last place on earth we would talk about politics. In fact, not at the table, not in the garden, not on the telephone, not in email, no, not ever. Well, that is a slight exaggeration. Every once in a while, my son will broach the subject because he thinks I’m misled, unread, and uninformed. But sadly, he won’t take the time to do as you suggest, really sit down at the table and parse the subjects and find out that we really have so much more in common than he has come to believe. Sometimes things out of his mouth make me wonder if he actually grew up in a different home.
    I agree with you completely that we have to find a way to have dialogue. My husband and I try at times, but there is often so much pushback, that we stopped trying. Now I remain quiet, which makes me angry that I don’t have a voice.
    Thanks for your thought-provoking post.

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    • I think most people get quiet when they’re being actively opposed v.s. risking the relationship, but you are right, it makes the quiet ones angry on the inside. It’s even harder when it’s family. I think we do need to voice our opinions, especially these days, in as respectful a way as possible. Thought it’s hard. But change IS hard.

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  8. I am afraid some people have grown up with hate and therefore that hate response is learned and easy for them. Would a hater come to your dinner table? Would you ask him or her? Then show him or her how you listen without hate. Model for him or her how dialog works. That would be a powerful little step.

    Dawn — you don’t need to post this — Many people would not want a hater in their home — but I think we quiet people need to reach out to the hurt aka haters, instead of hating back.

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    • Yes, some people have grown up that way. And don’t trust anyone else with their feelings, so they spew what they know. Don’t know if a hater would come to my dinner table, but they would be invited. I think it’s harder to express their generic hate script when they’re seated at someone’s table. But whether or not there could be valuable discussion would be hard to know. Just getting to know each other on a more personal level would be a beginning.

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