“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.