Warrior On, Peacemakers

To my fellow peacemakers. To the weary and burdened among us. To those of you listening and learning. To those who lament.

We have heard stories of injustice, racial profiling, and racism for years. None of it is new. Thanks to camera phones and social media, we can now bear witness to these stories like never before. It is difficult to take in so much pain and ugliness, but for those who have been screaming into the abyss of doubt, dismissal, and apathy for years, there is a sense of relief.

Week after week, as new accounts emerge, our long history of dismissal and doubt gets chipped away.

We have to be careful though. If we only watch injustice unfold on the stage of social media, we will be left feeling more separate, divided, and confused than ever. Don’t let this be your only lens. If you feel like things are worsening, they’re not. The division and pain have always been there. 

We have a deep wound in this nation. A wound we have only attempted to bandage.

In order to move toward healing in this nation, white people, in particular, need to listen and observe. Sit with people. Make space for their stories and perspectives. Sit in discomfort. Allow their thoughts and views to be challenged by people who have different life experiences.

We can talk about hard things. We need to. It’s taken hundreds of years to get to this point, and it’s not going to heal overnight. But each person can make a difference. One person at a time, one interaction at a time, one movement toward greater understanding and unity at a time.

Warrior on fellow peacemakers.

How To Bridge the Divide and Improve Understanding

You’re tired and weary. Political discussions tend to disgust you more than anything. You’ve moved from “why can’t we all just get along?” to “why bother?”. You’re not alone.

Most of us are feeling the weight of disgust and disappointment with politics these days.

The political climate has gone from seasonally heated to perpetually disappointing. What we could once rely on as a temporary dose of election season ugliness, has become a daily drip of negativity and discord.

I started the Food For Thought community based on a belief that beneath all the political posturing and misunderstanding that makes talking politics with people of other persuasions so difficult, there was a deep desire to connect with others and feel understood. I still believe that.

But it’s been difficult. The climate of communication has been abusive, divisive, and outright dysfunctional. I’ve spent a lot of time in the “why bother?” camp, and only recently been reminded why.

Today was one of those days.

I am on the heels of our first Food For Thought dinner party since moving back to the States. Typically, we pick a topic, prep for a week or two, and then get together to eat and talk. But this time we decided to base the dinner topic off of the book Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild.

With my busy schedule I wasn’t sure I would be able to complete it, but thanks to Audible, I did. And I’m glad I did. The hope that seemed so distant and foreign to me has returned. Reading this book reminded me that if people do the work to gain understanding, they can find common ground and build a better foundation for humanity.

And that’s what we all want, right?

Take, for example, the new beer ad from Heineken that’s gone viral. It’s gone viral precisely because it strikes at the heart of this desire.

Those of us who love it, love it because it captures the essence of humanity and our desire to set aside boxes and connect with one another.

But I wonder, for all of the love we feel when we watch it, do we realize that these are real people responding to one another. Given the opportunity, would we be willing to do the same?

If you’re like me, and the division in this nation grieves you, are you willing to take an active role in changing the climate? Are you prepared to collaborate with others and build the proverbial furniture?

Will you choose to stay and have that beer in the end?

We need one another, and I firmly believe that if we can filter the noise, partisanship, and talking points, we will gain insight and empathy and conquer even greater tasks than Ikea furniture instructions together.

Food For Thought and How It All Began

I’m one person living in a small suburb of Detroit Michigan; a wife, a mother, and a citizen of a small yet brilliantly beautiful and diverse world. At the moment, I have little more than a desire to see change and some crazy idea to bring people together around two things I’m passionate about food and politics.

I lived in China for close to 5 years, and upon my repatriation into the US, I noticed an increased tension and division in this country. People appeared to be less capable of respectful debate, and far less inclined to share their ideas freely.

I spent a while in observation and gave a great deal of thought to how living in a foreign country had changed the way I perceived the world around me. I wanted to take time and consider the possibility that it was my own perception and not America that had changed so much. Ten months and many conversations later, I have come to the conclusion that America has indeed changed. For a variety of reasons- we have become a country of assumptions, judgment, cynicism, self-protectionism, and deep division.

From the moment I started encountering these issues, I was met by a strong desire to be a part of changing them. Almost immediately, I envisioned playing host to dinners and discussions in my home. A great meal shared can be a powerful unifying force, so why not?

Over the next few weeks, months or if I’m lucky, perhaps years- I will be host to groups of people who enjoy some or all of the following: good food, gathering with others, and sharing ideas. My hope is that I will be able to provide an environment in which people can enjoy gathering for meals and respectful dialogue.

I realize that I’m not going to change the world. I may not even change my neighborhood. But I hope to be a part of something that I am passionate about; something that can bring people into a place of greater understanding for one another and the world around them. If nothing else, I hope to enjoy some excellent food.