What does dinner time mean to you?

Dinner time – “The word “dinner” comes from the French word dîner, the “chief repast of the day”, (Wikipedia). It is a time for family and bonding in some homes. In others, it is simply a time of eating. Dinner time in many cultures is associated with ceremony and a degree of formality. There once was a time in the U.S when people dressed up to come to dinner on a regular basis. Traditionally, the head of the household said a blessing and then dinner was served. Increasingly, in our strapped and harried culture, dinner time has become a time simply to grab a quick microwave meal and catch the latest sports event on TV. The time for socializing and sharing the day’s experiences has been traded for time in front of the TV watching the news. Mom’s homemade cooking has been traded for Mrs. Field cookies and Papa John’s Pizza. Dinner is simply a time to stock up on high fat, high calorie pre-processed foods. Witness the current obesity in American society.

We can yearn for the past, but the past is not always as we remember it. Dinner time in some historic periods has been a time of fasting and even deprivation. There simply was not enough food to go around and many would go hungry. A blessing would have been said to simply help find food and to survive until food could be found. Today there are still places in the world where people do not have enough to eat. The following facts are from the site:
“Bread for the World” ( http://www.bread.org )

• 854 million people across the world are hungry, up from 852 million a year ago.
• Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes–one child every
five seconds.
• In essence, hunger is the most extreme form of poverty, where individuals or
families cannot afford to meet their most basic need for food.

These figures come from studies done by Global organizations working to reduce poverty. Perhaps in twenty years or so we will have made a larger dent in these figures. Perhaps we will not if the world has to keep struggling with war and terrorism, if we do not see the urgency or we do not make it a global priority to help reduce poverty. The value of sitting together at a well stocked dinner table gets trumped by the value of security and freedom from oppression. Have you ever wondered why we cannot have both values together? How do we bring this choice upon ourselves in the first place? Are war and poverty inevitable? Have we accepted that they are beyond our control? Is it simply our nature as human beings to have to suffer? Would we really want a world that was like the Garden of Eden? Or would we soon become bored and start throwing apples at each other?

Have you ever sat down at dinner and not had enough to eat? Have you ever passed the plate so someone else could eat and you would not? Have you ever passed the plate to help others in the world to eat? Is dinner time a time of joy for you or a time of strife? What would help to make it more joyful? Would more food help? Would more socializing and talking to each other help? Would doing more to help those with even less than you have help?

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