Whatever happens Tuesday, you are invited to a meal at my house.
No matter who you vote for or where you come from. No matter the language you speak or your stance on the designated hitter. No matter who you love or who you worship. No matter if you cheer for the Dallas Cowboys or dip chicken nuggets in ketchup or are one of the many who have unfriended me because my political views annoy you.
You are invited.
Because I am hungry for a better world. At times I am starving for it.
I feel an ache in my gut, a gnawing sensation that I cannot shake.
My stomach knots as I watch the way we interact with people that we disagree with. My heart breaks as I watch how we form our opinions and tackle or dodge the unique challenges of our day. As I watch us avoid critical thinking to parrot tired, worn talking points that neglect both reason and truth. As we refuse to listen to information that challenges our preconceived ideas. As we draw lines around “those people” and do violence with our words, attitudes, and actions.
Our nation is suffering under the weight of hate, disease, death, apathy, prejudice, inequity, violence, fear, hypocrisy, deceit, and polarization.
There must be a world better than this.
We can to better. Love better. Think better. Form better conclusions. We can listen better. Vote better. Treat each other better.
So, you are invited over.
Not because our differences don’t matter. Not in some sort of hollow call to unity that avoids addressing hard topics. Not in an effort to ignore the deep pain much of our nation is experiencing or to put a Band-Aid over the yawning chasm that exists these days.
But in order to move towards a better world. In order to use my position (A position I understand not everyone has) to help bring healing amidst so much brokenness.
Maybe I’m naïve, but I imagine if we sit at the table together our walls will come down. If we turn off cable news and spend time listening to each other’s stories we will be much closer to the truth. If we stop forming opinions based on memes and instead based them on real life, flesh and blood people serving us green bean casserole we’d be much less hostile.
It is a lot harder to call a person names when they are sitting at our elbow. It is a lot harder to dismiss a person’s story or hardship as they play with our children on the floor. It is harder to retreat into the echo chamber when we fully see and know who is standing right in front of us.
When you are truly, genuinely, urgently important to me I cannot stick my fingers in my ears and ignore what you have to say. When you are important to me I will realize that my freedom and your freedom and my future and your future are wrapped up together.
I cannot disentangle myself from you when you are sitting at my table. Shedding your tears, sharing your laughs, hoping your hopes. At the table we level the playing field. We are invited into one another’s world and if we are willing to listen, if we are willing to learn, if we are willing to love each other more than we love our long held ideas or our power or our privilege – if we ever get to the place where we tangibly love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves – we might just find ourselves changed.
When I truly know and love my neighbor, I am forced to engage them, to hear them, to give them space.
When I truly know and love my neighbor, I can no longer hide behind, “I don’t have a racist/sexist/hateful bone in my body” and must be forced to reconcile any ideas, laws, or practices that harm people even when I’m unaffected or unaware.
When I truly know and love my neighbor, I cannot escape to my favorite talking head who is paid to enflame the base and must instead build relationship with the people right in front of me.
When I truly know and love my neighbor, I cannot support what is good for me if it ends up being harmful to you.
I am convinced that knowing each other well will fight against the destructive ideas that exist in our landscape. I am convinced that proximity will eventually, slowly perhaps, lead the way to truth and truth will move us toward love. And love will give birth to flourishing.
When we know each other, fully, we will be better. We will be more just, more peaceful, more joyous, more full of grace. More like the world God intends.
So, I offer you Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday. I offer you breakfast for dinner and leftover night. We do driveway s’mores on Fridays and you are invited.
You can come. And sit and listen. I’ll listen too. And I’ll invite my neighbors and ask you to listen to them. The ones from different churches and religions, different skin colors and backgrounds, different relationships and yard signs.
And maybe, just maybe, the better world we are hungry for will slowly take root. Perhaps with each bite of cobbler and each relationship made we will move toward a world where we truly mean “liberty and justice for all.”
I believe one day all that is wrong in the world will be made right. I also believe that we can participate in that reality even now as we build the world of tomorrow.
I believe this world can be built on truth and love. That in the end, truth and love will conquer lies and hate, death and destruction, fear and division.
We need not continue like this *gestures broadly at all the things*.
A better world is possible. I’m hungry for it.
And, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy
On my best days, I believe this. On my worst days, I need this.
So may we have the courage to sit at the table. May we have the awareness to make room at the table for others. May we have the boldness to invite those we don’t yet know and those we assume we do. May our proximity change our hearts, our ideas, our actions, and our world. And may we hunger no more.