I spent 10 days recently with a group of people from 17 different countries – 22 if you add in the facilitators and organisers. There was no hassle, no misunderstandings, no grief. We weathered the inevitable communication issues (minor), adjusted well to the various cultural differences, and we got along.
Read any newspaper, turn to any TV channel, switch on social media and you’ll immediately see instances where people are not getting on. And increasingly, it seems to be perceived polarities between Christians and Muslims, between nationals and non-nationals, between politics A and politics B, that are consuming an inordinate amount of energy today. Needlessly consuming. Needlessly consuming valuable energy.
There is no quick fix. No grand solution. No magic bullet. With people come prejudices. We’re conditioned to creating barriers, giving reasons why we can’t do X instead of looking for solutions and finding reasons why we can do Y. Sad to say, it seems to be the nature of the rather nasty beast that man is morphing into.
But occasionally, I get days when what I read or watch or listen to replaces despair with hope and I take solace in the fact that in every corner of the world, someone is working hard to make a change.
What struck me in both videos is how food played an integral part in a harmonious relationship. And I recalled an inspirational Post-it that said: When you have more than you need, build a bigger table. And then I remembered, a great Canadian video I saw a while back:
Two years ago, in November, in Seoul, Korea, ‘food as an instigator of unrest as well as its symbolic role in forging peace was the topic of a conference at the Slow Food Asia Pacific Festival’. A report speaks to various initiatives around the world that show the power of food. But on a simpler, more personal note, perhaps we could make the world a better place if we spent more time around the table with each other, talking, eating, appreciating our differences rather than finding fault.
As the Heineken ad asks: Is there more than unites us than divides us…
I’m cooking for six tomorrow evening – six people, five nationalities. Not a personal best, but not bad.