If we have no peace it is because we’ve forgotten that we belong to each other. ~ Mother Teresa.
I think we’re all at the point where we can’t go on tiptoeing around current events on the political front, and I’m mostly speaking for myself. Here in Canada we’re affected – no longer a country on the sidelines. We’re feeling the tremors; they’re impossible to ignore.
Quebec became involved this weekend, when an admirer of President Trump took brutal action against the Muslim community. The unthinkable. As a result, six families are fatherless and many more ravaged by fear and worry as their loved ones lie in hospital. And hate crimes spiked in Montreal today, because intolerance breeds intolerance, and it cannot be contained by borders or governments.
Nothing gives us the right as humans to judge each other based on race, religion, gender or orientation. We are all equal and all connected. We all have value.
For a long time I’ve felt the urge to reach out. To speak out. But how? And what to say? It’s overwhelming. The world is darkening. Self-care in this tumultuous time is needed, and then, as much as we are able, we must act. If we do nothing – say nothing – about injustice, intolerance and hate, then we become part of the problem. I feel this keenly.
I’m at home with small children every day, and can’t easily get out to protest or attend a vigil to show solidarity. But I can cook and feed people. I can listen. I can spark conversation and engage one-on-one or family-by-family.
ALL photos by Tim Chin
My dining room table has a high turnover, especially in these cold winter months, but I admit, these gatherings are mostly friends and family. In the coming weeks, however, this will change. I’ve given over my address, phone number, and the number of chairs around my table to the trusted organizers of Food Bloggers of Canada and they will be helping me fill those seats with people who are outside my circle but in my neighbourhood.
I’ll host a pot-luck or two and who knows what will come of it, but the effort must be made. Is the thought of welcoming strangers into my home daunting? A little, but I am ready to be shaken up. At this point, one month into the year, this feels like the right thing to do.
Food brings us together like no other medium, and so I challenge you to throw open your doors and invite people over for dinner. Fill up your table with folks from all sorts of different backgrounds and walks of life. Celebrate your uniqueness; respectfully discuss your differences. Toast your distinct cultures.
Perhaps in doing so you will discover that while you are diverse, you are not so very different after all. Food has a way of bringing people together and leveling the field.
‘It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.’ ~ Irish Proverb
When we invite others into our home, we offer a sanctuary. It is our time and our efforts that we offer up, as well as a listening ear. Here, community is built. Neighbours are connected. Friendships become cemented. These face-to-face connections are invaluable in our current fast-paced digital world, where Facebook rants dominate our feeds and the tone of our friend’s comments can be hard to decipher.
The right words, in the right tone, can change hearts and minds. The right words can hold sway. Talk to those around you, even those who are on the opposite ‘side’. We are all connected. We are all affected. Isn’t the hallmark of democracy hearing each other out and allowing for the respectful exchange of opinions?
And above all, listen.
Getting back to gathering folks for dinner: it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. In fact, the less formal the better. The scraps of ordinary life slung around a home remind us all of our transitory existence. If we’re not opening our door in an attitude of graciousness, then what is the point? I call it hospitality: when the focus shifts from you, the host (and a perfectly set table), to the guest and their comforts. For me, this is the simple difference between entertaining and hospitality. Less show and more soul.
“We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa.