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Will You Complain in the Morning?

Voting and the art of making Chili

Our home has been turned upside down. Since back surgery three and a half weeks ago I’ve been forced to assess how I spend my time. In an effort to help out around home I’ve taken over the meal planning and cooking.

Now, if you’ve never eaten at my house, you have to understand that my wife, Mary, doesn’t simply cook a meal, she creates an experience. So trying to follow in her footsteps is a little intimidating. Knowing our kids love her meals I began my cooking adventure by asking for some of her “easier” go-to recipes.

Her recipes called for a variety of ingredients but there were always a few items that seemed to represent most of the meal. One afternoon I started preparing one of her dishes, and thought to myself, “does this really need a ½ teaspoon of onion powder or a ¼ teaspoon of turmeric?” So I threw the main ingredients in a bowl, mixed it together and let it fly.

The results? It tasted okay, but it wasn’t moms. Something was missing. At dinner that night Mary quickly asked me what I had forgotten to add! Lesson learned, together all the ingredients, even small amounts of seemingly insignificant seasonings, make the entire meal better.

I voted today, did you? If you spend any amount of time on social media or watching the main line news, you know we are living in a deeply divided country. But if you turn off the loudest voices screaming from the far left and right, I wonder if we are really as different, as some might want us to believe? I have a very diverse group of friends and acquaintances, do you see yourself as a “donkey” or an “elephant?” If you were to take every line item issue, do you line up 100% republican or democrat?

No matter who wins Tuesday, all 325 million citizens will continue to take one step at a time into the future. I was making chili last week, and there is an art to making good chili. While good ground beef, beans and tomatoes are a must, it’s the onions, the 4 types of peppers and the seasoning that go into the slow cook that make chili, really good!

As I was chopping the peppers and onions and fresh tomatoes, they were no less a pepper or an onion once they were thrown into the boiling pot of chili. They became part of a new identity, my chili! The entire pot of chili was much better because they each added a unique flavor.

Just like all the ingredients that go into my chili to make it a culinary delight, our country is a mix match of people from around the world. That’s part of what makes America great. I just had major back surgery last month and the two surgeons were from opposite corners of the earth, one was Anglo and the other Iranian. Yet they worked as a team to improve my quality of life. My own children have roots that extend to England, Ireland, India and Mongolia.

This blog is not about immigration, so don’t rush to the left or right. Yes, we are a sovreign country so we have laws and borders. And we all know that without laws and boundaries chaos ensues. My point is, that in the midst of all the rancorous noise generated during this season of tension in our country, maybe we should be looking for what brings people together, rather than what makes us different?

Author and former pastor Tim Keller points out that “we live in a world fragmented into our various “media bubbles,” in which you hear only news that confirms what you already believe.” It has become very acceptable to demonize or ridicule those who think differently than you. Rather than look for strength or common ground, people look for reasons to dislike and hate those who belong to the opposite political or cultural parties.

No matter who wins, we all have to live together. The choice is up to each one of us, we can continue on in the mean spirited conversation that is defining the landscape, or we can look in a new direction.

An ancient king once said that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made. Our country is a melting pot. As a whole, we are a group of people from many ethnic, religious and experiential backgrounds. I’ve spent enough time hanging out with fishermen to know that in fishing, there is a tremendous diversity of opinions on how to catch a fish. Why are we so surprised

when so many other people don’t see a particular issue exactly the same way we do?

Maybe tomorrow we begin to season our thoughts and words with respect and dignity for others?

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