How the Family Dinner can Save Civilization – in conversation

Or  – Why You Should Talk about Prop 37 At Dinner Tonight

One of the keys to a good meal is conversation.  A simple way to view this is:  food + conversation + people = dinner.   I believe this simple daily practice can help save civilization.  The shared meal provides a natural opportunity to sit down in comfort – defenses down, minds relaxed.  It’s a time to pause in our activity and talk about things that matter.  The practice of the shared meal becomes, then, a long conversation.  This grows into a series of nuanced conversations that move through weeks like grape vines.  They produce good fruit.  Rightly practiced, this would change the world.

We are at the tail end of a national campaign for the USA presidency.  In a few days all the campaigning will be over, and we’ll finally know who will lead this country for another four years.  I must say I have found the “conversation” that has happened in this current election cycle to have been a debacle.  It has been coarse – concocted primarily of ½ truths and tantalizing sound bites.  The billions of dollars spent on this poor quality conversation reflect a squandered fortune.  This frantic political activity does not represent much of a conversation. Most definitely not a beautiful vine of conversation.  More like a series of bitter Pop Rocks than delicious meals.  And it will most definitely not save civilization.

But what a different place the world would be if we had conversations about things that matter in a context of significance rather than one of meaninglessness.  We have important decisions to make about how we citizens go about our business.   Elections are a big deal.  We need to provide a right context for the conversations that lead to properly made decisions.  Political ad campaigns provide a context of meaninglessness.  The shared meal provides a context of significance.  I believe that this is a huge benefit not just to the folks at the dinner table, but to the wider community.

One ballot box decision coming up in California is Prop 37.  If passed, Prop 37 would require food growers and manufacturers to inform the consumer about the inclusion of GMO foods in their products in California.  It’s just a label – a tiny piece of text on a package.  But this little bit of text on a package is undergirded by deep philosophies of food systems.  (Michael Pollan recently wrote an excellent essay about this in the NY Times.)  It’s been an expensive and contentious battle.  This little piece of legislation is directly tied to the dinner table – it’s all about knowing what’s in our food.  I believe that the dinner table – not the common political ad channels –  is the best context for a discussion about food systems.  It’s the right forum for understanding just what would happen if this little proposition passed, or didn’t.

Ours would be a better world if we diverted most of the funding for caustic political ads and applied it instead to healing the land, and supporting families as they strive to raise their children and eat dinner together, making good decisions that improve life for all.  All this is to say sit down with good food, and people you love, and have a conversation.  Then go vote.

food + conversation + people = dinner.


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