Share a Meal, Save America
Love takes action. That's why sharing a meal is so powerful.
Today, it’s hard enough for family members to gather for a meal. So inviting a stranger, let alone someone with opposing political views, to sup at one’s table sounds ridiculous. But that’s what America’s politicians did after a horrific shooting left Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and four others wounded at baseball practice.
In a press conference Wednesday, emotional Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) announced Thursday’s Congressional baseball game between Republicans and Democrats would go on. The two are the teams’ managers. Doyle also announced that his team would host the entire Republican team for dinner at the Democratic club. “To share some food and drink and get to know each other a little better,” he said.
“I’m going to order the most expensive steak on the menu,” Barton teased. “If you have steak on the menu.”
“We’re Democrats. We don’t have steak,” Doyle retorted. The friends laughed.
No, You’re Immoral
For The Weekly Standard Thursday, Andrew Cline recalls how he and a liberal friend used to share pizza after working on opposing political issues — a kind of bipartisan camaraderie now rare.
“Only 9 percent of Democrats would use the word ‘moral to describe Republicans, a 2016 Pew Research Center poll found,” Cline reports. “Only 3 percent of Republicans would use that word to describe Democrats.”
Though the numbers shocked me at first, I quickly realized they made sense.
Preparing a meal takes investment. Opening up your home requires trust. Sharing your table means vulnerability.
Consider Christians alone in last year’s presidential election. Believers on the Right and Left accused each other of marring their Savior’s name and commandments because of who they supported. Christians who didn’t support Trump were supposedly going to be complicit in the downfall of the republic and the abortions of untold millions of babies. Those who did support Trump were apparently complicit in racism and rape culture.
These were Christians. The group that’s supposed to be recognized by our love for each other. Instead, we tossed damning insults, doubting each other’s sincerity in faith.
“It is hard to form friendships with people we believe to be morally corrupt,” Cline writes.
When Democrats and Republicans view each other as immoral, they’re both right. Because we’re all immoral. And we’re all getting worse.
Statistics show that religion is declining, which naturally causes morality to decline. The Atlantic covered this phenomenon in their April issue.
“The culture war over religious morality has faded; in its place is something much worse,”author Peter Beinart explained. “Secularization isn’t easing political conflict.”
According to LifeWay Research, most Americans are “concerned about declining moral behavior.” But we’re divided over what defines morality. With consensus lacking on this important point, it’s no wonder animosity continues to grow.
A Recipe for Friendship
Recently conservative pundits have debated about whether or not we are in a “second Civil War.” Is it justified to call the other political side the “enemy,” or is that hyperbole? The truth is that we only have one true enemy. So whether we call political opponents “enemies” doesn’t really matter. What does matter is what the Bible says to do with our earthly enemies: Love them.
Love isn’t a feeling. It’s active. That’s why sharing a meal is so powerful. Preparing a meal takes investment. Opening up your home requires trust. Sharing your table means vulnerability.
Eating and drinking are literally fundamental to life. So allowing someone else to serve you in such a basic way is humbling. Accepting what they’ve prepared communicates acknowledgement of and appreciation for their effort.
What do you get when you mix investment, trust, and vulnerability with humility, acknowledgment and appreciation?
A recipe for friendship. The kind of intentional, bipartisan friendship we need.
Political Views Notwithstanding
“Every member of Congress is a person” with family, Barton said Wednesday.
“When you know somebody’s kid, somebody’s spouse, play baseball with them, you see them at the gym and you talk to them there, it’s different,” Doyle added. He regrets that on Capitol Hill, “there are very few opportunities to interact outside having our suits on.”
But Doyle and Barton want to change that in light of Wednesday’s politically-motivated attack.
“When the leadership of this country is civil towards one another, maybe the public will start being civil towards one another too,” Doyle said. In the wake of political violence, he and other House Democrats led the way by inviting Republicans to dine.
Perhaps the rest of us should follow suit. We should invite the new family from church, from school, from down the street over for dinner — political views notwithstanding.