I have a a new essay up on Her View From Home, in the kitchen section about feeding a family in an enjoyable way. In the scheme of things my essay is not that important compared to what is going on in the world right now. Bombings, nasty politics, child abuse, domestic violence, rape, drought, flooding, human trafficking, racism, hatred, fear, police killings, killings of police officers, any killings, the list could very well be endless.
No, my recent, minuscule contribution, How to Simplify Weeknight Dinners & Please Everyone is just about one of the mundane aspects of parenting, getting dinner on the table. A lot of parenting is just that, mundane, boring, frustrating. But the essay is also about food. And for me, food brings people together. It seems we could all use a huge dose of gathering around the table to enjoy good food with each other. That special place where we can talk and listen and communicate, where it’s safe to speak our truths.I like to believe I live in a country where we really can speak our truths without getting shamed, without someone issuing death threats to us, siccing the 2nd Amendment on us, burning our jersey. But that’s not the case, is it?
A friend recently said to me, “Why must protest be seen as unpatriotic?” I agree.
To me apathy is unpatriotic.
I’ve been haunted all week by this gorgeous, well written essay, White Moderates – Don’t Let History Repeat Itself, by Judy Daniell. Her words compel me to speak up. I personally don’t view Colin Kaepernick’s protest as an act that disparages our flag. Rather, I think to myself, wow, he must have a lot on his heart and mind that doesn’t sit right with him about inequality in this country, and he was brave enough to make a spectacle, a peaceful spectacle, of himself. I think, I’d love to talk to him and find out what he has to say, why he feels this way, and what can be done about it.
I don’t know Colin Kaepernick at all. I don’t know if he’s a good man or not, because I’ve never met him and I don’t follow football. I know, Gasp! I can hear the collective shudders running through the football hearts of my friends and family members. (That’s okay, that’s nothing compared to this next sentence: I’m also an atheist. Actually, for some of my family members football might come before God.) But I do know Mr. Kaepernick’s a black man living in this country. I know he knelt down in peace, in concern, in protest without any weapons, without spewing hatred and venom towards those he disagrees with. He did not stay silent. He chose to say we have some serious things wrong in this country that we need to find solutions to. This country we all live in together. He spoke the truth.
Many of you, including members of my own family, or football fans who don’t like Kaepernick, may criticize me for my opinion, but you know what is not solving any of these issues? Criticizing each other, screaming and yelling at each other, ignoring each other, judging each other, engaging with hatred. You can disagree with me and debate me all you want. We can spend hours arguing over who’s right and who’s wrong. But if that’s all we do, then at the end of the day, the problems still exist. I’d much rather be part of the solution, wouldn’t you?
I personally don’t often speak my own truths because I’m afraid of being judged. I’m afraid to tell people I don’t believe in the God they believe in because of how they might judge me, because of what nasty words they might say to me. And I’m a white person, a middle-class white person, who lives a life full of privilege. I can’t imagine the fears a black person has in this country to speak his or her truth. Or someone who’s gay, or transgender, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or anything different at all.
I may not believe in God, but I do believe in kindness, in taking care of each other, in listening and respecting other people’s differences. I believe in books, friendship, travel, education, reading, writing, date nights, girls’ nights, eye glasses, yoga, swimming, pedicures, more books, wine, snow, the soft fur of my dog’s neck, grief, family, romance, hugs & kisses, good movies, laughter, tears, gardening, art, love, holding hands, the sound of waves crashing onto shore, a beautiful rainstorm on a hot summer night, mountains, music that can make me cry, the haunting melody of a violin, coffee, oh coffee how could I forget you!
I believe in so many things, and I believe in delicious, comforting meals shared with others. I believe these meals we share with one another create community. We, you and I, don’t even have to like the same food, but we can still gather around the table and learn from each other, can’t we?
I’m not naive enough to think a good meal can solve all of life’s problems, but we have to start somewhere, don’t we? Let’s invite our friends, our enemies, even strangers to dinner. Let’s pass the grilled vegetables, the bread, the pasta, the creme brûlée dessert, the water and the wine, and let’s all sit down together around a table where we can talk and, more importantly, listen. Let’s open our hearts and minds and communicate with each other, and let’s seek to understand so that we can make the changes we so desperately need in the world, this beautiful, colorful, heartbreaking world that our precious children will inherit. We don’t have time for hatred, people. We don’t have enough room in our hearts for it.