How about a week each summer to calmly discuss the issues over a tomato sandwich?
From what you read in the newspaper, you would think there is nothing but bad times ahead for the somewhat United States of America. Well, since it seems fewer and fewer are actually reading newsprint any more, maybe I should change that to read media. I haven’t seen a breakdown, but I’m sure a large number of citizens only see what news is posted on their social media sites anyway.
That in itself would be particularly frightening, that people can hide behind anonymity and make whatever statements they like, without the checks and balances of editors, except that what was once called news is now mostly opinion, and there are very few actual news reporting agencies left.
So individuals are left to listen and read and try to stay open-minded enough to make up their own minds, which are always influenced by cultural and political leanings. The result is the great divide, and that is where America is today.
Clashes between blacks and whites, gays and straights, men and women, Muslims and Christians dominate the headlines almost every single day. And now the cowardly act of assassinating police officers in Dallas is even being revered by some on social media, and there has even been a call for all blacks to move to some southern states to form their own government. Plus, I have read of secessionist movements in some other states as well.
After the events of last week, there were protests demanding action, just what would be the course of action no one seems to know. And, of course, outcries for politicians to fix the problem, as if they were not one of the major causes of the problem, with all their partisan bickering. Politicians can pass laws, but they can’t change people’s hearts, and that is the root of the issue.
So, I am proposing a week-long celebration of the tomato. Not just any tomato, but a sun-ripened summer tomato, fresh from the vine in someone’s garden. Citizens of the United States should gather in restaurants and bars, picnic tables and parks, in National Parks and beaches, and communicate with each other over the consumption of tomato sandwiches.
Some may say they don’t like tomatoes, but it is likely they have never eaten a summer tomato, sliced and inserted between two pieces of white bread covered with mayonnaise, and dusted with salt and pepper. It is a treat that is impossible not to like.
If you were lucky enough to grow up in the rural South, tomatoes were eaten with each meal between the first of June and until the last one could be plucked from the vine. They were served sliced on a plate, cubed in a salad, green ones were deep-fried (a southern delicacy that everyone should be forced to eat before being able to finish school), and in countless other forms, simply because they grew so abundantly and were almost free. I guess someone had some expense in growing them, but back then, everyone shared them with their neighbors and anyone else they could find to share with.
I’m open to some minor changes to suit the individuals’ taste, such as substituting wheat bread, adding bacon, and toasting the bread, but the inclusion of the tomato is not negotiable. Neither is the use of “hot-house” tomatoes, grown in Latin America and their sole purpose is to make one appreciate the summer version.
All we need to do is to get all people, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religious preference and sexual identity, to sit together and discuss the problems and issues over a plate of summer tomato sandwiches, we would all be able to get along.
After all, we are all the same, we just disagree on some points. We start to feel as if no one is listening to the issues we feel strongly about, from our neighbors and friends, all the way to our elected officials in Washington. The more ignored we believe we are, the more the anger inside grows, until it boils over, and we take it to the streets, or we take out our frustrations on authorities or the man down the road.
How do we curtail all that anger? Tomato sandwiches. Just try to be mad while eating a summer-time tomato sandwich. And if we can talk without getting mad, we can solve anything.